Microsoft unveils new Streetside view

In a change that many have expected, Microsoft has unveiled its new 'Streetside view' for Bing Maps. The introduction of this new type of view has been designed to compete with Google's streetview by saying that "The street flows by as a series of smooth ground-level photographs so now you simply pan up and down the street to see the neighborhood and find what you are looking for."

As Microsoft puts it forward, rather than offering a view of the street in a bubble form by where you're restricted to certain view points along the road/path, you're able instead to slide through the street in one view. The images that the Bing vehicle takes are synthesized together to create a certainly different type of viewing experience for the user which Microsoft feels is a good thing.

One of the specific advantages that the new Streetside view offers is the specific location of businesses and services which some have commented are harder to find on Google's popular Streetview. You can try it out for yourself in New York or San Francisco. What is interesting is that Bing has made it clear immediately that this has the potential to be used on mobile platforms quite easily, as those using the Bing app on the iPhone may find this look familiar.

As we observed with Google though, it can take quite a significant amount of time to pass before you are able to cover a large area on an international basis, which in turn increases the user audience dramatically. Given that this provides a different experience from the ideas that we've seen before, it will be interesting to see both how it is promoted and whether it succeeds.

Image Credit: bing.com

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34 Comments

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Where in the hell is the html5 Bing version that they have been talking about since last year April? It was supposed to have been released with internet explorer 9. For a while it appeared on a few peoples computers a couple of months ago including mine and then it just vanished.

Looks good, and will probably make it much easier and less processor intensive for the "car" to get the pictures, but the navigation controls on screen need a revamp, big time.

Generally works well here on FF4, nice and fast and smooth. Although navigation around the map is abysmal and the image stitching is in dire need of improving.

Good first stage, hopefully the source imaging is sufficient that they can chuck a bunch of processing at it and improve the imagery.

Beautiful. If it works like this on a WP7 phone, even better. Just slide the image to the right or left to continue down the street!

tensegrity said,
Looks like the scene of a terrifying fringe event.

hmm im thinking more like the urban scenes in inception...

That's cool, and it's nice to see an MSR project go to production. That said, I think there are at least three major problems with the implementation:
1. You can't pan up/down when zoomed in.
2. The images are poorly stitched together.
3. There doesn't appear to be any perspective correction on the imagery, possibly enhancing problem #2.
That said, great idea and I hope it improves.

EDIT: Oh, and #4. How the hell do you enter streetside mode when browsing a map? I don't see any UI to get to it.

MrA said,
That's cool, and it's nice to see an MSR project go to production. That said, I think there are at least three major problems with the implementation:
1. You can't pan up/down when zoomed in.
2. The images are poorly stitched together.
3. There doesn't appear to be any perspective correction on the imagery, possibly enhancing problem #2.
That said, great idea and I hope it improves.

EDIT: Oh, and #4. How the hell do you enter streetside mode when browsing a map? I don't see any UI to get to it.

I agree, they could use Photosynth and possibly Deep Zoom for this, then keep this version for low bandwidth connections.

neo158 said,

I agree, they could use Photosynth and possibly Deep Zoom for this, then keep this version for low bandwidth connections.

I'm glad the client is pure HTML/CSS/JS. There's no need for anything else. The stitching problems would have to be fixed during tile rendering, and no amount of Flash or Silverlight will help.

MrA said
EDIT: Oh, and #4. How the hell do you enter streetside mode when browsing a map? I don't see any UI to get to it.

click the little guy in the UI next to other buttons

dhan said,

click the little guy in the UI next to other buttons

Ah. Turns out you need to set your region to US (mine was australia). Which frankly, makes no sense at all. A map of Boston should be the same whether I look at with a US or AU region.

MrA said,

Ah. Turns out you need to set your region to US (mine was australia). Which frankly, makes no sense at all. A map of Boston should be the same whether I look at with a US or AU region.

Probably has a lot to do with licensing... They licensed the imagery from someone and they probably don't allow it in certain regions.

Hasn't this been around for a while, or has it just been in development and is now being released...

I swear I remember looking at this a few years ago but can't recall if it was a demo or not.

Either it was pretty cool and ms has a solid product on their hands.

SaltLife said,
Hasn't this been around for a while, or has it just been in development and is now being released...

I swear I remember looking at this a few years ago but can't recall if it was a demo or not.

Either it was pretty cool and ms has a solid product on their hands.

You are correct. This was shown off some time back not sure how long ago but definitely more than a year ago. Surprised its taken so long to get to launch. Maybe it took a back seat to other projects.

NPGMBR said,

You are correct. This was shown off some time back not sure how long ago but definitely more than a year ago. Surprised its taken so long to get to launch. Maybe it took a back seat to other projects.

Yeah, I remember the demo as well. I guess they have to prioritize as they try to add so many features to Bing's many platforms...

This is a nice concept when all your roads are in a grid formation like US roads are, but bring this to the UK and it'll be practically unusable.

JamesWeb said,
This is a nice concept when all your roads are in a grid formation like US roads are, but bring this to the UK and it'll be practically unusable.

I don't really know, it might work, but it'll need some very precise maps and GPS...

JamesWeb said,
This is a nice concept when all your roads are in a grid formation like US roads are, but bring this to the UK and it'll be practically unusable.

Works just fine in the windy roads of San Francisco.

JamesWeb said,
This is a nice concept when all your roads are in a grid formation like US roads are, but bring this to the UK and it'll be practically unusable.

It works in Boston...

Jan said,
That does look very nice.

It does. I hope they are able to expand this to other areas as Google has, because I think the design is much better than Google's Street View. Microsoft did this right.