April 11, 2008

Multimap launches new features

Filed under: mapping, multimap, technology, user experience — Tags: , , , , , , , — Warren Hutchinson @ 2:26 pm

By Warren Hutchinson

Hot on the heels of my posting about Multimap being honored at the Webby Awards in the Service category comes some great news that a new feature-set has been implmented.

Those that have watched closely would have been expecting this due to the recent acquisition of Multimap by Microsoft.

But ah-ha, it’s not all MS integration stuff.

First up, Improved mapping functionality with Microsoft’s ‘Birds-Eye View’. While I wasn’t a great fan of Microsoft’s mapping solution, I did quite like the idea of the Birds-Eye view, a 3/4 isometric view from above.

It definitely taps into that ‘thing’ that makes looking at maps quite addictive and for me is a nice step ahead of Google Earth in terms of flying about. GE is slightly limited (unless you use the 3D buildings) at providing a decent non-distorted angled view.

Multimap Birds-Eye View

Also note the Wikipedia view, overlaying information from Wikipedia that has a geospatial reference.

I find this sort of view really useful when it comes to looking at directions to a place that I have never visited. Mostly as a way on envisioning the route before I drive it. Overhead view is useful for orientation and proximity purposes, but it doesn’t really look like the real thing. Only the other day I sat down with my father to ‘fly’ him through some directions on GE.

I’d like to see Bird-Eye View fly-thoughs added to Multimap Directions at some time. I think Map24 has some sort of solution for this. Yes you can switch on Birds-Eye when in View Map mode of the Directions service. But it’s not a prime feature.

Multimap Directions - with Birds-Eye

I should quickly add that Multimap’s Birds-Eye Vie isn’t available for all locations, just “major cities”. Although my town is covered and I live out in the proverbial ‘sticks’.

In this new release they have also improved the directions functionality with better, more coherent step representation for journeys. When I played with it yesterday, the map view wasn’t quite working as the site was obviously rolling out across the servers. But it looks promising indeed.

Multimap Directions

And lastly, exacerbating the blur between location based services and directory services, Multimap now has Business Listings. The Multimap communications said:

Now you can use our maps to find businesses in your area – or your destination. We’ve got details of everyone from accountants to woodworkers in the UK, US, Canada, France and Italy – with other countries coming soon.

For those ardent lovers and web 1.0 stalwarts, the old site has finally gone. but don’t fret. If interactive maps really aren’t your thing or you are on dial-up or have an old system then you’ll be happy with the introduction of ‘Basic Site’ functionality. Essentially a rasterised map offering with some new features, but optimised for more basic delivery.

Multimap - 'Basic Site' View

I like the way Multimap have retained this as important. When we at LBi first engaged with them, Sean (Founder), Eric (CTO) and Jeff (CEO) were all fairly adamant from the get-go that ALL users were important.

Anyway, there you go. Have a play and switch your favourite mapping service over to Multimap.

BTW – I do have integrity and this isn’t a shameless plug for LBi work. I firmly think that this is the better browser based mapping solution out there at the moment.


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