We’ve just made updates to our consumer site, Live Search Maps which are tied back to some of the updates in the Virtual Earth platform – there’s a slough of posts coming from me today! For the release we’ve included some AWESOME new features for users to enjoy, so please…enjoy!
Community submitted collections are now indexed immediately after upload and can be searched seconds after they are created. In addition to this, we provide better overall information retrieval by using collections data to augment search results in the “business” scope in cases where limited or no business listings exist that meet the search criteria.
Local Search Vertical
Search refinement – Searches can now be refined further through filters that become available based on what you search for. Hotels, Restaurants, and generic queries each have filters that you can use.
Related searches – Related categories and neighborhoods with result counts allow you to see how many results there are before selecting a related search. This is the first time we’ve expose aggregate counts on the results page. These will be present for many filters and related searches in future releases.
YPC Phase 1.5 – MSN Yellow Pages and Local Search Vertical page both have ads above and below
The details page has moved to an inline layout (from the tabbed model in previous version). This allows much more content to be exposed via controls that users will interact with anyway (scroll bars) instead of hunting through the content for the tab.
In addition to the layout enhancements, we have a new control on the page called the scorecard. This scorecard is a different way of looking at user reviews. It extracts user sentiments for a specific set of attributes that are applicable to hotels and restaurants. You can view the average score for that attribute and dig into the user comments themselves.
Multipoint Driving Directions extends our historical point to point driving directions metaphor to allow multiple waypoints, or “stops”, along the path of the route. This enables you to generate a single set of directions for reaching multiple destinations. Common scenarios where you might find this valuable include running errands, visiting homes for real estate purchase, picking up and/or dropping friends, choosing an explicit route to arrive at a gathering or other multi-stop trips around your city, region, or country.
In an effort to make driving directions more easily understandable, landmark “hints” are now provided at key locations along a route. These hints provide the user an additional piece of visual data when making a turn (TACO BELL on the corner), or provide a feedback mechanism that the user is on the correct path when traveling down a road.
Landmark hints are applicable to routes in North America and include the following types of businesses:
- Gas Stations
- Major National Chains of
- Convenience Stores
- Grocery Stores
- Car Dealerships
Results for place searches (e.g. cities, states, countries, landmarks, etc.) have been improved, particularly for international queries.
Coverage for high precision geocoding has been increased. 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.
- Updated Desktop and Mobile road tiles (including overlays for hybrid/labels view) using the Baker (April 2008) road and place data
- All Bird’s Eye Scenes were updated with new road and label data
- The British Isles are rendered using a new map style
- Aerial (ortho) updates:
- USA: 63 metro areas across 27 states
- Outside US: 278 metro areas across 56 countries
- Bird’s Eye (oblique) updates:
- USA: 146 metro areas across 35 states
- Outside US: 97 metro areas across 14 countries
Vector Data (roads and places)
- 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)
- Data to support the new and improved Virtual Earth find place implementation for Helios for the Geocoder and Find Place web service.
Giving the best map label experience was a goal of the Helios release for international customers. 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).
Virtual Earth – 3DVIA delivers revamped navigation controls, the ability to add models when launched directly from the desktop (outside of Virtual Earth 3D), in application tutorial videos and the ability to insert models from the Dassault warehouse as components of your model.
Finally, future Virtual Earth 3D releases will be delivered through Microsoft Update, making it easier for our customers to receive functional updates to the 3D client code automatically as a part of their routine Windows maintenance activities!
In Virtual Earth 3D you can see clouds based on real time weather. This is updated every three hours, with the update date/time displayed at the bottom right of the screen. 14 clouds types are supported.