Corin Anderson (magellanic) wrote,
Corin Anderson

Bing maps

Although bing web search may be close to Google with quality and usability, bing's maps and directions leave me wanting more. Today I looked for directions to an address in Sacramento. Searching the address on bing directly gives nothing useful; I need to click the map link for a map. The map itself, there's something about it that I just find unappealing. Maybe it's that the suggested zoom levels show mostly grey because there's no roads that close? Maybe the font is too small? Maybe I recall what Streets & Trips looked like along with its Windows 3.1 interface and this looks too similar? Dunno. Moving on: I want directions. I find a button "1-click directions" which leads to a page with directions to the destination "if you're coming from the north", "if you're coming from the east" and that sort of thing. Neat feature; if it were my address and I wanted to give a link to other people that would be the one I'd give. I wanted directions from a specific starting point. There's a link to do so, I enter the address, hit enter, then nothing. Seems that the default action on that dialog is Cancel rather than Get directions. Clicking Get directions, bing then says that it doesn't know where [address, zip] is but that [address, san francisco, ca, zip] is its best guess. The rest of the page is a map of the U.S. Of course I clicked on the suggested address but why is this step necessary? bing figured out that I really meant to put in San Francisco, CA, why didn't bing just use that address? When I do get directions they seem reasonable. I click to print - 4 pages. The maps print on two pages (should have been one but bing guessed wrong about my printer and printed another 1/4" on page 2) directions on two pages (same as above). Sort of dumb; web pages shouldn't try to paginate for themselves, leave that to the browser.

Switching over to Google, I find the maps more pleasing to look at, for reasons I can't pin down. A web search for the address shows a maps onebox and one click gives me directions from my default location (which I can, and did, change for my needs). Maps print on two pages only and it's easy to exclude the overview map if I don't want it (at the zoom level it's at the overview does little more than show me where I-80 is). Curiously, Google predicts the trip will take about 15 minutes more than bing does, although the routes are the same.
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