Vamshidhar Kommineni

December 20, 2006

Live Maps Bird's Eye feature rocks!

Filed under: Microsoft — Vamshi @ 1:06 am

There was much publicity and excitement about the high detail oblique imagery that is exclusive to Virtual Earth, Live Local, Live Maps (http://maps.live.com). I loved the imagery when it came out and it was head and shoulders above any other satellite imagery offered at the time. However there were two limitations:

  1. Regions with bird’s eye imagery were very limited
  2. Navigation in bird’s eye view was really hard. Rather than the smooth scrolling in the aerial, road or hybrid views, the interface was more than a bit clunky requiring clicking on tiles to move from region to region.

I’m happy to report that both of these issues have been largely addressed:

  1. Coverage is dramatically enhanced.
    Regions in the US that have bird’s eye imagery
    Regions in Europe that have bird’s eye imagery
  2. There is a temporary fix ("Pseudo Panning") to allow nearly smooth panning of bird’s eye imagery. The interface is still a bit unwieldy, but way better than the old interface. Turns out this is actually a hard problem. Read about the details straight from a dev’s keyboard.  

I’ve followed the Virtual Earth team on their internal feedback alias with great interest, and they are among my favorite Microsoft teams for how fast and well they are executing. I hope they continue to do so. I’ll have to do a couple more posts about my other favorite features on Live Maps (collections, drawing, etc.)

Check out Bird’s Eye Tourist for some neat Bird’s Eye view images.

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