Bing has just completed a two-year project to dramatically improve the clarity and accuracy of its aerial mapping data. By utilizing multiple imaging resources (including images captured by plane during a fly-over) Bing Maps has just completed a mapping quality that is consistent across the entire continental United states. The end goal of the Global Ortho (GO) project is to cover the entire world with these extraordinarily accurate images that are detailed enough so that one foot of actual space is one pixel on Bing Maps.
Google Maps, incorporated with Google Earth and Google Street View, has a wider variation of resolution and detail. Many of its captures are taken by satellite, and while users can zoom in a little further, the quality of the image may not do the zoom feature much justice.
How do these mapping sites compare in a side-by-side analysis? I was fortunate enough to stumble across a tool that brings Bing Maps and Google Maps next to each other so you actually can see these images side-by-side.
Jonasson.org’s maps application sits Bing Maps directly next to Google Maps. Searching for 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, CA will reveal the address as seen by each of these sites. You can zoom in with each of these tools and see how they compare in terms of quality and accuracy.
Bing Maps boasts that each square foot of ground space has an exact coordinate associated with it represented by one visual pixel on the map.
Both mapping applications feature a bird’s-eye view of the map enabling you to see things as they would appear from the side. It isn’t always easy to identify an area from a direct top-down image, so this is a plus.
Below: 1 Infinite Loop / Cupertino, CA
Between these two images, I’d have to pick Google Maps over Bing Maps for picture quality, though Bing Maps does provide a cleaner interface. This isn’t necessarily the case in all locations as the side-by-side comparison of the greater North American region will show you.
I decided to try mapping the area around the Statue of Liberty to get a quick glance of Lady Liberty herself. I was surprised to find that no Street view or 45-degree angle view of the statue was available in Google Maps (though it is detailed in 3D using Google earth). Google Maps did provide me with a number of location-accurate photos to choose from so it wasn’t a total loss.
Bing Maps, on the other hand gave me a 45-degree view of the statue. Here is a comparison:
Streetside Vs. StreetView
Bing and Google both have an integrated engine that enables you to see the sights from the street as opposed to having to rely exclusively on overhead maps. Google is well known for having cars roaming around the world in order to create unique images of locations for its StreetView service. Meanwhile, Bing has a version of this same feature of its own called Streetside.
Comparing the two is difficult. Each has highs and lows in terms of image quality, and it would be hard for me to really declare an edge here except to say that Google has charted more rural areas than Bing. For example, my old home in Victoria, TX can be pulled on Google Streetview and isn’t available in Bing Streetside.
I’ve spent the greater part of a few hours attempting to come up with a clear victor between the two. Unfortunately, I was unable to. The time of day the aerial shots are taken, details of the maps, and even the street-level imagery taken into account leave me with no clear preferred service. It’s up to the user and their own specific needs to determine that one.
For what it’s worth: I found Bing Maps upgraded images to be cleaner and easier to understand than Google’s. Google has social integration through Google+ for location reviews and social meetups. In the end, it all comes down to what I need at the time I need it.
What about you? Have you tried the new Bing Maps aerial views out? Do you prefer it over Google, or the other way around?