Microsoft today released a number of major updates to the Streetside feature in Bing Maps. Streetside used to be very similar to Google’s Streetview, but Microsoft just mixed things up a bit and included an important twist. Instead of showing you the street from a car driver’s perspective, Streetside shows you pictures of the buldings on the right or left side of the street. Using Streetside now feels a bit more like walking down a city block than driving down a street. Until today, users jumped from one bubble with a 360 degree view to the next. Now, however, you can smoothly move up and down any street, choose which side of the street you want to see with just one click and also switch to another street at an intersection.
This new version of Streetside started its life as a Microsoft Research project called Streetslide and is currently available in 56 major cities in the U.S. and Canada (though this new version doesn’t seem to be available in all locations yet). Given that Microsoft is clearly emphasizing this product now, though, chances are that we will see additional cities in the near future. We also know that Microsoft’s Streetside cars have been on the road in Europe, so keep an eye out for the European version of this feature as well.
Microsoft notes that the old, Streetview-like style made “it difficult for you to get a sense for a larger area like a city block. Moreover, it’s hard to pick out storefronts farther away since you really only see the ones directly perpendicular to your viewpoint with great clarity.” Now, when you use Microsoft’s version of the pegman, you’ll be taken to the new Streetslide-based version of Streetside. Without saying so directly, this is obviously also a critique of Google’s Streetview approach.
To give it a try, head to Bing Maps, click on the blue pegman at the top of the map.
Here is a map that shows the areas where Streetside is currently available: