It seems as though Microsoft is about to take on Google Maps, and based on their demo video, I like what I see. Microsoft Research unveiled its Street Slide at a conference last week, showing off some very cool features that make Google’s Street View seem antiquated (even though it is very new). Take a look at the demo of Street Slide and then the one of Google Street View and you will see what I mean.
Now let’s be honest, both of these are very cool applications that take maps to a whole new level. With so many people having smart phones and iPads, using one of these applications (in a city where it is available) makes it nearly impossible for you to get lost. As someone who is not known for his sense of direction, this is very exciting. There have been countless times I was wandering a new city and the paper map they gave me at the hotel doesn’t seem to be accurate. And of course, even when turning to Google, I have had way too many instances where street names don’t match. Having the ability to compare building facades, stores front and do a complete 360 of what is around makes getting your orientation so much easier.
Of course, once you do manage to figure out where you are, with the interactive features you will be able to find out information about important buildings (“this looks important, what is it?”), restaurants and shops. And don’t forget to use your foursquare account to check-in to the places you discover.
There are definitely more players in the digital maps space than Google and Microsoft, such as MapQuest, but they seem to be the most innovative right now. I look forward to seeing if Street Slide is added to Bing in the near future and also look forward to seeing how Google plans to keep up. With all this progress in digital maps, hopefully there will no longer be a need for this: