Archive for the ‘Live Maps’ Category
After playing with the new Live Maps for a few days I’ve found a rather nice new feature regarding Birds Eye. When you switch from 2D viewing to Birds Eye there is a momentary pause during which a small rectangle zooms in on the area that will be shown by the Birds Eye photo. Check it out in this following 14 second video where I use Birds Eye view to take a look at Lords, the home of Cricket.
Pretty cool eh? Its small things like this that can sometimes make all the difference.
I’m also pretty impressed with the GeoRSS features where you can subscribe to an RSS feed of geo-tagged content in an area defined by what is displayed on Live Maps at the current time. Here is one such RSS feed:
I’ve highlighted the part of the URL that defines the rectangular area for which the feed should include content. What I think would be really cool would be, instead of defining a rectangle, I get to define a polygon for which content should be returned. That way I could draw a polygon defining my home town (Sunbury-on-Thames) like so:
and only see content for Sunbury-on-Thames. That would be very cool and hence led me to submit the following to Live Maps feedback:
The GeoRSS feature recently released allows me to define a rectangle for which to return content. Pretty useful stuff.
What I’d prefer is the ability to draw a polygon using the existing ‘Mark an area on the map feature’ and return content that appears in that polygon. Thus, I could subscribe to a feed that only returns content for my home town.
[Also added to my feedback lista.]
What else? Oh yeah, whilst drawing the shape that you see on the screenshot immediately above I noticed that you can now return to a previously created polygon and either move the points that define it, delete them, or create new ones. Check it out:
I’m not sure if that came with this release but I’ve never noticed it before so am going to assume that it did! Pretty cool anyway and very useful!
Have you spotted anything else that hasn’t been reported as yet?
OK, ignore my last entry, the real info is herein.
1. New search bar
Finally Live Maps now has a single search box for whatever you want to find and it is much simpler than the last one. Scoble will be so happy.
2. Favourite collections
You can now save your favourite public collections for easy retrieval later. Great to see this being moved into Live Maps proper.
3. More 3D Tour Options
We now have new options for 3D tours including something I asked for, the ability to display photos from my collection when recording a 3D tour. Good news.
4. The ‘Share’ options dialog box has changed appearance
5. Birds Eye indicator
Whenever you happen to be browsing an area that has Birds Eye imagery you now get a more visual indication about it
6. Mapcruncher maps can now be added to a collection and thus added to a 3D tour
7. Collections can now be exported as KML, GPX or GeoRSS feeds
8. Send collections to a GPS device
This is for all those people that have signed up with MSN Direct.
9. New version of the Virtual Earth 3D control
and Liverpool appears on the installer
That’s all that I could find for now. Its a very quick and dirty list and I’m sure there’ll be something more complete on the VE blog very soon
Strange stuff indeed. Still, it gives me an idea of what might be coming. It looks as though mapcruncher will exist for real on Live Maps and the buttons labelled "GPS" are very intriguing indeed – I suspect that will have something to do with the recent MSN Direct/GPS announcement. Well, I’m off to bed now, I’m sure the morning will bring enlightenment.
- Collections currently require an internet connection in order to be viewed. I think there’s great potential for taking collections offline (i.e. as a stand-alone file) that you can interact with just as much as you can regular Live Maps.
This would be great for mobile devices because it would save bandwidth and thus save costs. Obviously the file contents would be a tiny subset of all the data available on Live Maps, but if you know what data you are going to need before you leave your house taking that subset with you would be a good thing.
- The recent release of Live Maps (and the Virtual Earth platform) introduced the ability to build 3D tours of your collections (see some of them here). Its a fantastic feature but like anything there is still room for improvement. I noticed today that if you place a line such as this one:
on a collection and then build a 3D tour from that collection this is all you get:
Its hardly enthralling is it? All it does is zero in on the centre of the line. Instead I’d like something a bit like the video below that I had to record by placing lots of pushpins along that line that you see in the image at the top of this blog entry.
Still though its far from perfect. Its not the nice smooth journey along the route that one would like.
[I also acknowledge after writing this that I should have used something less bleak than the english Lake District for demo purposes but I’m not going back to redo it now. Hopefully you get the point.]
I have submitted both of these ideas to http://feedback.live.com and hence you can see them on my Feedback Lista as well. If you think it would e good to have these features then go and ask for them yourself as well.
Recently Steve Lombardi from the Virtual Earth team published a blog entry in which he said "In reviewing activity reports for Live Search Maps today I noticed that <some collection> was viewed about a half million times today"
That interested me. The Live maps team are obviously able to track how many times each collection is viewed. That makes me ask why that information isn’t available to the people that would really care – those that create the collection. For example, I’ve been working out in the USA for about a year now along with a number of colleagues and I put together a Live Map Collection showing some of the places we’ve visited. I sent a link around to other people in our company and I’d love to know how many of them actually looked at it.
In January of this year Steve Lombardi from the Virtual Earth team asked what would we like to see appearing in Virtual Earth/Live maps? Here were a couple of my suggestions:
- Integrate with PhotoSynth. I look forward to the day when I can zoom into a building or town square and then seamlessly shift into a PhotoSynth representation of it.
- Record my movements and let me play them back later
- in order to build the "video" just let me draw a line on a 2D map and then VE can convert this into a 3D video "route" for me
Well today’s Live Maps release included nods to all of those and plenty more besides. Top of the list of new features for me are the ability to record a video of a 3D journey through points in a collection and Birds Eye layering on 3D maps. Let’s take those in turn.
A picture is worth a thousand words so they say so what price a video? Here’s a video I recorded today that shows all home stadium of each team in the English Premier League. Check it out:
I’m utterly blown away by this feature and have loads of ideas about how I am going to use this in the future. Here’s one idea – I’m currently in the midst of creating a Live Events page for my wedding next year and I’ll be embedding a video recorded from Live Maps that shows my guests how to get to the venue from the local airport.
The Birds Eye imagery within 3D maps is equally as impressive and here’s a video of that being used to look at the place I’m currently working in downtown Houston, Texas.
See the manner in which available images are displayed? Seen that anywhere before?
For a longer (but not complete) list of all the improvements read the official announcement blog entry.
Me being me I’ve always got something to complain about so after playing with the new features for a couple of hours here’s a list of changes I’d like to see happen:
- I’d like to see us given the ability to directly upload the 3D tour video to MSN Video
- Collection markers don’t show up in the video. I’d like to have the option to have them included
- Similarly in each collection that forms the basis of each video there is a lot more information than currently appears in the video (e.g. a photo). I’d like to be given the option to include that information in the video.
- Why oh why can’t we save driving directions as a collection? If we could then we could easily reproduce driving directions as a video of the planned route.
I’ve got a few more ideas but that’s enough for now.