This is part 3 of the feature – Comparison of Free Online Map Sites ‘Bing Maps vs Google Maps’ that takes a closer look at Google & Microsoft’s web mapping services.
Major Differences/Pros and Cons
Location Search Accuracy
Both have done a great job utilizing spatial database data to provide a better accurate search, although sometimes you may find one does a better job over the other in different areas (with no real reasoning of why). Also the more information you have to provide (e.g. adding postal code) in your search then obviously the better your results will be.
Both map services offer driving directions that can be easily achieved by stating a start and end point. Driving directions that I have tested with both services were usually pretty accurate with estimated travel times based on mode of transportation provided by both has been pretty good as well.
Satellite Image Resolution
Imagery data sets for both services vary from place to place but overall it seems that Bing Maps uses newer and better quality satellite images than Google Maps does. Bing Maps images are generally about a year old (about 215 terabytes of high-resolution imagery to Bing Maps was recently added by Microsoft), where Google Maps images have an average of about 2 to 3 years old. With Bing Maps, you can also zoom in closer than with Google Maps (if the data exists).
Bird’s-eye View of Bing Maps offers a 3D view of buildings in major cities (mostly in the USA) and many places that are not highly (like most parts ofCanada) populated will not have any higher resolution imagery and only basic larger scale Landsat data will be provided. Sometimes Google imagery does not flow well together, mixing dark and light data sets and some with clouds and other obstructions (usually a pet peeve for anyone who works in Remote Sensing) . However both vendors provide better imagery as they obtain it so aerial imagery in various areas is constantly changing.
In a bid to keep up with its arch mapping rival, Microsoft is taking on Google Maps in the high-resolution space with a 215 terabyte update of Bird’s Eye imagery.
Microsoft has piled on another 215 terabytes of high-resolution imagery to Bing Maps, less than a month after it dished out a massive 165 terabyte cache of mapping data to the service. [source: news.cnet.com ]
Streetside View vs. Streetview
Both Bing Maps and Google Maps have street-level views, where there is a panoramic view taken from the top of a car and stitched together so it looks like you were standing there. Bing’s “Streetside view” shots are clearer, with higher resolutions and more features (such as Flicker and Photosynth) integrated into the viewing experience. Bing’s Worldwide telescope integration is a feature that allows viewers to look up to view the night-time sky above them. Google’s streetview also has a “user images” feature that offers more photos than Bing does, but they are presented as a slide shoe, instead of being layered as they are with Bing. Google’s Streetview is worthy of an honorable mention because of the numbers of areas around the world that it has captured.
Both Bing Maps and Google Maps offer effective web mapping platforms with very similar yet unique features . Bing tends to have better features and tools integrated into it, and can operate smoother than Google Maps but their coverage of data in Canada is relatively pretty weak.
Both have great features to offer but neither one seems to really fully out shine the other over all, witch in a way can be a good thing as these two web giants continue to go head to head providing us with more free web mapping tools to make our every day lives better.
I myself tend to use Google Maps more perhaps out of habit from being a big Google Earth user, but can honestly admit I do go back and forth between the two mapping applications depending on what I am using them for. ArcGIS now offers Bing products as free base maps for ArcMap layouts so that certainly has increased my Bing maps usage.
For example, I find that Bing does a better job of providing names of streets and rivers and the Bird’s Eye imagery always provides more than one view of an object (although not available for many places in Canada). And a lot depends on the imagery of data that is available in the area I am working with, so I tend to sometimes check both to see which one is better.
And actually someone has come up with a web application that provides both mapping applications in the same window for times when you want to compare (http://www.jonasson.org/maps/). So go ahead and check out these two popular free web mapping applications and then leave some comments about witch one you prefer over the other.