Microsoft has announced three new enhancements to their mapping solutions with Virtual Earth. The first are new features in Live Search Maps. The second is a new Virtual Earth Web Service and Virtual Earth Map Control 6.2. The third is a new version of Microsoft Virtual Earth 3D and 3DVia.
(1) New Feature Release of Live Search Maps includes:
- “Community collections” contributions are now included almost immediately after submission. Plus they are now using this information to “augment search results in the “business” scope.”
- More local verticals including search refinement, related searches and more ads “YPC Phase 1.5.”
- Improved detailed page that “has moved to an inline layout,” and adds a “scorecard” reviews layout, which gives users a new way to look at reviews.
- Multipoint Driving Directions extends the historical point to point driving directions metaphor to allow multiple waypoints, or “stops”, along the path of the route.
- “Landmark Hints” for Gas Stations, Major National Chains of Hotels, Restaurants, Convenience Stores, Grocery Stores and Car Dealerships.
- Address geocoding for the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy has been improved, with dramatic improvements in unstructured match rates for queries in these countries.
- Imagery Processing and Rendering improvements with updated Desktop and Mobile road tiles, Bird’s Eye Scenes were updated with new road and label data, British Isles are rendered using a new map style, Aerial (ortho) updates and Bird’s Eye (oblique) updates
- Refresh of roads and postal codes for North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific using April 2008 data from TeleAtlas, Navteq and Map Data Sciences (MDS)
- Across Western Europe, the updated map tiles provide the place names in the local language including The Queen’s English (En-gb), French French (Fr-fr), Spain’s Spanish (Es-es), Italy’s Italian (It-it), and German’s German (De-de).
- Extended the 3DVia integration and modeling toolset to Japan (Ja-jp) and Spanish (Es-us) speaking users in the US.
- More frequent real time weather updates every three hours, with the update date/time displayed at the bottom right of the screen.
- Rich Imagery for Mobile
- More flexibility to develop mobile features
- Maps are now available in English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish for users in Western Europe. These localized maps are supported for both desktop and mobile applications.
- New international reverse geocoding
- With expanded parsing capabilities, users will experience better match rates for addresses in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
- The new map control includes the ability to zoom in on a map to better visualize a cluster of points. The pushpins can be clustered and surfaced at larger zoom levels, or hidden from view at smaller zoom levels, to give a better user experience.
- Virtual Earth now offers 85 million unique addresses—more than 65% of all rooftops in the U.S.
- Using near-matching capabilities, customers can find locations using alternate and similar spellings, resulting in a more relevant search experience.
- New landmark hints in routing
- New imagery metadata
- New functionality to hide base layer tiles
- Weather integration
- The new SOAP based Virtual Earth Web Services v. 1.0 offers static map images (.gif, .jpeg and .png), direct map tile access, one-box search functionality, geocoding, reverse geocoding, routing . It supports Virtual Earth on the desktop and on mobile devices.
- Through the Web Services, customers can now get directions in one click, choosing from route options by shortest time, shortest distance, or traffic flow.
(3) New Version of Microsoft Virtual Earth 3D and 3DVia. When you get to Live Search Maps and click 3D you’ll be prompted to update your 3D control. As a part of this, you can also download the latest and greatest bits of 3DVia from Dassault Systèmes (or go to the 3DVia download center on Live.com).