Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

Discussing Internet security in (mostly) plain English

Google maps vs Live maps

Google maps vs Live maps

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This post is not spam related, but I'd still like to talk about it.

For the longest time, I always used Google maps as my map-interface of choice whenever I wanted to search for a location.  I thought that it had the best user interface.

I think I'm switching over to Live maps, from Microsoft, for a couple of reasons:

  1. Google maps has been off on certain locations a couple of times, that is, when I search for a place, the map location is wrong, sometimes by several hundred yards.
  2. Craigslist map locations are understood better by Live Maps than by Google maps.  What I mean is that sometimes people put shorthand into the location of a Craigslist ad.  I click on the Google Map and there is an error.  I copy and paste it into Live Maps and it finds it just fine.
  3. Live Maps interface is now nicer.  The Road view now looks as good as Google's (before it was too small), it matches Google's functionality and I just discovered Bird's Eye view, which Google Maps doesn't have.  I clicked it on and thought "Wow, this is really neat."  For me, that's the clincher.

Google beat Microsoft to the punch here (in terms of getting a good mapping application first to market), but I think Microsoft has done an excellent job catching up.

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  • Sometimes both are pretty far off in the displayed locations of villages and roads.

    In one case Microsoft could display driving instructions between two villages but all instructions said turn { left | right } onto local roads.  In the same situation, Microsoft couldn't even find the capital of the province, though it found two villages.  In contrast, Google knew nothing about any of them at the time.

    A few months ago someone posted a mistitled piece called "Microsoft humour" with a link to Google's driving instructions from New York to Paris.  I pointed out that it was Google humour.  But then I found Microsoft's humour by getting driving instructions from Yokohama to Tokyo.  Microsoft's route included a ferry to some remote islands south of the main inhabited parts of Japan, because legally they're part of Tokyo prefecture.  If I recall correctly, Microsoft couldn't find my city in Tokyo, though that might have changed by now.

  • The nice thing about Google is that their maps are current and in color.  While Microsoft does have some new images (and I'm sure some are newer then Google's) by far and large these only apply to large cities while everything else gets the same images that Microsoft's old Terraserver used back in the late 90s.

    Terraserver was awesome back then, but now it's simply unacceptable.

    I'm a huge fan however like you of the birds eye view.

  • The google pictures of my area are over 6 years old. The Microsoft versions seem to be less than 2 years old. I also LOVE the different views that you can get with the Microsoft system. There is nothing like being able to swivel all the way around a building to get a good feel for what it looks like. With google, you pretty much get a top only view which doesn't help very much. Google gives you the one view that you pretty much will never get to actually see in real life. When was the last time you climbed on top of a building to see what it looked like!!!!

  • Hey matt.  Last time I tried the Google version it let me swivel and tilt, but the microsoft version didn't.  The Google view of Niagara Falls was capital.

  • Speaking of the bird's eye view, where do those images come from? I know that my county supplied the images that Google Earth uses because their own online GIS app uses the same ones. Microsoft's images over my area are still black and white... the old terraserver ones.

    Anyway, there are bird's eye views of many areas around here and I was just wondering how images that close up and in that quantity over several camera angles are obtained

  • If you look at the current fires in Southern California,  Google Maps was a BIG HELP to me and everyone else in San Diego as it provided the tools to allow individuals to draw on the map and for the public to see map updates immediately.  Plus the integration of Google Maps with Google Earth is a wonderful, since you can take the results of a Google Map KML and input into Google Earth!

    In Google maps you can see fire regions, evacuation areas, shelters, etc. were all easily shown on Google Maps.  Here is an example:

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=&ie=UTF8&om=1&msa=0&msid=114250687465160386813.00043d08ac31fe3357571&ll=32.990236,-116.732483&spn=1.234787,3.010254&z=9&num=1000&utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-mapshpp-na-us-mm&utm_medium=mapshpp&utm_term=fires

    The Microsoft Live map pales in comparison as it only shows point data:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21436901/

    As you can see the Live map pales in comparison to the Google Maps.

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