Microsoft may have sent of some of its mapping employees over to Uber last week, but that doesn’t mean it’s giving up on improving Bing Maps.
The company today revealed a redesign that looks a whole lot more like Google’s product – but that’s not a bad thing.
Most obviously, the map now takes up nearly the entirety of your browser, with your search results organized into floating cards displayed to the left. These show information such as hours of operation and similar nearby businesses, and you can also add multiple destinations to view them all in one go when planning a trip.
Microsoft says it’s designed the maps to be more touch-friendly and intuitive. You can now choose between aerial and road views from the bottom right, and saving favorites, adding routes, or getting streetside views is just a right-click or long press away.
There are some features carried over from Google Maps too. Bing will now use predictive routing to estimate travel times based on expected traffic – useful if you’re on a long drive and are likely to get caught in rush hour traffic. Meanwhile, a new ‘Along the Route’ feature makes planning road trips easy by listing hotels, restaurants and gas stations you’ll be near to during your rides.
A My Places tool lets you save locations and set them as home, work or favorites, and it will sync with Cortana and the Windows Maps app as well. And if arranging a trip with friends, you can share route plans with them too.
While there are some notable similarities to Google’s offering – after all, there are only so many ways you can design a map app – it appears to be an overall change for the better. You’ll have to opt-in to the new design during the preview phase though, which you can do at www.bing.com/mapspreview.