Today marks the beta release of the all new Silverlight-based version of Bing Maps, and one of the most visible features on this new site is deep Photosynth integration. The best geotagged photosynths from our community are explorable in Bing Maps in all their synthy goodness -- that's more than 14,000 Photosynths, and 1,435,000 photos.

If you want the full story on everything in this new maps release, check out the official Bing Maps blog. Continue on here to see more details on how Photosynth enhances the maps.

As with most things synthy, words aren't the best way to communicate the experience. Instead, take a look at this one minute video of "diving in" to a synth from Bing Maps.

Want to try it yourself? Here's a link that positions you on Beta Bing Maps exactly where the video starts.

Coverage
The Photosynth community has spread to the far corners of the globe in the 16 months we've been live, and the 14,000 geotagged synths cover all the world's major landmarks and many of the minor ones too.

Going to New York? There are more than a hundred synths in lower Manhattan alone.
Synths in New York

OK, but what about some remote spot like Easter Island in the south eastern corner of the Pacific Ocean? A couple of intrepid archeologists have created at least 13 great synths of the ancient stone statues of Easter island:

 

Cool. But what's it good for? 
The URL of our Beta Bing Maps site is bing.com/maps/explore, and that last word holds the key to why we've made Photosynth a first class imagery type for Bing Maps. More than any other photo technology, Photosynth offers the promise of really taking you inside the Sistene Chapel, showing you the texture of the rock at Uluru, or circumnavigating the great Cologne Cathederal. Exploring the streets of major US cities with the new Streetside map  view gives viewers a real feeling of "being there", but to deeply explore landmarks, public spaces, and the glorious details of world, you need to put powerful tools in the hands of the people who love these places. We think Photosynth is the best technology in the world for this task, and from the amazing output of our community, we think you agree.

A Small  Mystery Revealed
In our October update we released a feature in the editor called "geoalignment", which takes geotagging to the next level. The geoalignment process establishes a true size and orientation of the Photosynth point cloud. It's the mechanism behind the effect in the video above where the map rotates to the perfect approach angle for Haystack Rock off Cannon Beach. When we released the geoalignment tool a couple of months ago, we couldn't pre-announce the details this update to Bing Maps, so geoalignment was a bit of a mystery to our community. Not surprisingly, many of you didn't bother with it, but we did, and we even geoaligned some of your great synths to ensure they'd show as well as possible in this new maps release. The Photosynth elves have been burning the midnight oil getting ready for today's launch!

So How Do I get my Synth Featured?
If you've played around with the new maps site you'll notice that there are more than 300 synths in London, but only one of them is featured on the Bing Maps page if you search for "London, UK".  So who's choosing? Good question!

Initially, the Phoytosynth team is making editorial choices -- trying to choose synths that are well photographed and show landmarks that a visitor to that place would be interested in. Obviously this is pretty subjective, and we expect lots of discussion in our forum on the topic!  If you have a suggestion for a synth that should be featured for any particular location, please propose it on our dedicated forum thread.

Longer term, the right answer is to let our community vote on which synths to feature for a given location. Look for a dedicated blog post on this subject in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, please explore our new Maps release, and tell us what you think.

Happy Holidays
from the Photosynth team.