A new version of Microsoft’s Live Search Maps has rolled out (after yesterday’s major traffic and routing upgrade). There’s an enormous range of feature and functionality upgrades, which are explained in some detail on the Virtual Earth blog. There’s also a discussion at CNET. At a crude level, what it means is that Live Maps is now more visually rich and more “social” with third-party content.
Here’s the laundry list of improvements from Steve Lombardi’s blog post:
–Export your Collection to Your Navigation/GPS device –Improved 3D cities –3D modeling with 3DVIA –Labels for Birds Eye imagery –1-Click Directions (Party Maps!) –MapCruncher Integration! –Enhanced Explore of Map Content from across the web contributed by other People –Neighborhood Subscribe via GeoRSS –Tour Enhancements including Hi-Def Movies –Directions and Traffic Enhancements –Improved display of KML files including Google MyMaps links
The 3D improvements include trees and higher resolution imagery and graphical detail. The improvements are currently visible (you have to download a new plug-in) in the following US cities, with more to roll out: Las Vegas, Dallas, Denver, and Phoenix.
The “export your collection” feature allows personalized geo-lists and related content to be sent to any personal navigation device. On the theme of collections, you can see third-party content in Live Search Maps, meaning user-generated maps content from Google, Platial, and other sites. To enhance the user-generated content available in Live Search Maps, Microsoft is crawling for GeoRSS, KML, and related files. According to Lombardi’s post, “We crawl the web for geographic content and imagecombine it with our Collections data, all contributed by other people.”
(TechCrunch has a nice illustration of a My Maps “import” into Live Search Maps.)
There’s also the ability now to grab an RSS feed from a location within Live Maps, even at the neighborhood level.
If you’re interested in some of the more technical aspects of the new version of Live Search Maps, read the Lombardi post.
As a side note, regarding Live Search Maps competitor Google Maps, Barry posted at SEO Roundtable that Google may have changed its local algorithm and de-emphasized the “centroid” factor (meaning how near the hypothetical center of town a business is). There has been considerable speculation about and discussion of what contributes to a high ranking in the so-called “ten pack.” Mike Blumenthal and Bill Slawski have looked most closely at these issues to try and reverse engineer the elements involved.