Of the various services offered on Bing that directly compete with Google, one where I believe Bing has a “feature lead” is in Maps. Google Maps is still substantially more popular (blame that on the ability to attach data to your Google Account, the fact that it comes pre-packaged on Android devices, and the fact that Google Maps is more of a veteran), but Bing has integrated many applications and rich visual features that make it a very strong competitor – and with Bing’s recent additions, including an upgraded Streetside View and the June 8th release of a heat map application, users should pay attention.
The heat map creator application allows users to create a visual map that compiles loads of data into highly visible, identifiable trends. Specific polygonal data for the regions is not necessary. Rather, the creator of the map inputs the following information:
- Up to 25,000 locations (defined by latitude and longitude).
- A numeric data value for those regions.
Typically these files will be imported from a CSV. After upload, the Bing Maps application takes care of the rest – creating your color-scaled heat map within just a few minutes. Microsoft also took care to ensure that the screen was easy to capture and store for presentations and other data storage. Further, users who want a custom heat map can contact the appropriate Bing team to get started.
While it is possible to create a heat map in Google Maps, the process for doing so is far more complex and involves interacting with the HeatMapAPI. The Bing application that simplifies the process represents one more step ahead of the competition for Microsoft – but the lack of visibility for Bing Maps has nevertheless stunted the service’s growth.
[via the Bing Blog]