Bing Maps: A New Look for Pushpins, Popups, and Transit

Bing Maps  just rolled out some exciting new updates to that make it easier for you to find information on the map, explore the layouts of over 850 venues, as well as get to where you’re going with public transit (or transport). Read on to learn more!

Pushpin and Popup refresh

The pushpin. It’s the most common element overlaid on a map. And today, it’s getting an update. In making these changes, to both the pushpin and corresponding popup, our goals were simple: enable you to find the information you want, more quickly and efficiently, while at the same time minimizing obstruction of the map. Let’s take a deeper look at some before and after examples.

The updated pushpins are designed to better overlay on top of our base map color scheme and make it easier to find results when you perform a search. Search related content appears in blue, while user-generated and saved content (such as “My places”) use an orange colored pin. The contrast changes are more pronounced on hover (and for business searches, the corresponding item in the left-hand panel is adjusted as well), and we’ve also added a new small popup to tell you the name or location or the pin you’re hovering over. Now it’s much easier to quickly scan a bunch of pins to see what they are.



When you click to select a pin, it actually shrinks so as to expose more of the map underneath, and unveil our streamlined popup. Here, we’ve made a number of changes to more compactly display the relevant business or location information and stand out against the backdrop. The most popular actions available for each item have been simplified and consistently placed at the bottom. For most users (except those in the UK), the interaction has changed from a hover-only model to a click-based model for showing the full popup contents. (For users in the UK, where you already had to click to see the popup, we’ve simply added the new smaller hover popup in addition to the layout and style changes.) Overall, these improvements allow you to keep a popup visible while panning/adjusting the map, and even hover over other pins to see what they correspond to, ultimately making it easier for you to find the place you want more efficiently.


One final change you may have noticed is that the pushpins and popups dynamically adjust based on the current map style in order to ensure the information does not get lost on the map.


Enhanced Transit Experience

Public transit (and UK transport) users will find a handful of subtle improvements to our directions experience that make it easier to get where you’re going, and make sure you’re on the right line to get there. We’ve changed the way we represent each transit line to better reflect the actual colors and signage used by the line, both for our US and UK markets. You’ll see this reflected both in the on-map waypoints as well as our enhanced directions list.



More sharing options

We’ve also extended our ability to send directions to your mobile phone (via SMS) to support transit directions. This functionality is accessible via the “Send: Mobile” link at the bottom of the directions panel. You’ll receive a link on your mobile phone which loads the directions on, and works for all devices which can access (unfortunately, Windows Phone does not currently support transit).


Drag to modify your route

Users can now easily modify their directions routes by clicking and dragging on start, end, or waypoints. You’ll see a helpful tooltip appear when you hover over an element that can be adjusted simply by dragging and dropping—and the route will be recalculated automatically!

Explore venues

Did you know Bing Maps now has over 850 venue maps of airports, malls, shopping districts, and more? Browsing through them is now easier than ever! Just click on the “explore venue maps” link on Bing Maps, or to get there directly, to browse a categorized listing of available venue maps. You can filter them by country, sort them by location (or alphabetically), and browse through them spatially on the map. If you want to have your venue be part of Bing Venue maps, please contact us for details.


We’re excited about this next step in the evolution of our visual design and believe it is a big step forward for simplifying user interaction with the map, and helping users find the information they want quickly and efficiently. We’ll be rolling out these changes to bring consistency across the broader Bing network over the next few weeks.

Garmin Smartphone Link for Android


Keeping you connected and on the right track is what today’s announcement of the launch of Smartphone Link, the first Android app to provide live services to personal navigation devices (PNDs) is all about. Smartphone Link creates a seamless navigation experience between any Bluetooth® enabled 2012 Garmin nüvi and an AndroidTM smartphone allowing them to communicate and share data. Among other functionalities, the app lets nüvi users add live services, such as traffic information, traffic camera images, weather and fuel prices to their navigation device, utilizing the smartphone’s mobile data plan. Garmin Smartphone Link is available at no cost in the Android Market and includes several free live services as well as premium content available through subscriptions.

“Garmin Smartphone Link solves the problem of having to pay for an extra data plan to use live services on a PND by utilizing the existing connection of a smartphone,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “It is a great example of how smartphone apps can complement navigation devices, which offer key benefits such as bigger screens and better GPS reception.”

Free connected services include live weather information and myGarmin™ messaging, which provides update notifications and special offers from Garmin. Premium Live Services include the following:

Live Traffic ($19.99 per year): Garmin Live Traffic provides the best-in-class real-time information to help users navigate in and around congestion. Live Traffic is updated every two minutes and receives more than 1,000 messages every update cycle, including details of traffic incidents, road conditions and del ays. It covers major highways, interstates and main roads.

photoL ive traffic cameras ($9.99 per year): This functionality is an addition to Garmin’s Live Traffic feature and provides drivers the ability to literally see traffic conditions ahead of time. It lets users easily look up real-time photos from traffic cameras to get a glance at traffic and weather conditions. Included are more than 10,000 traffic cameras across the U.S. and Canada that send images every couple of minutes.

Fuel Prices ($9.99 per year): Users can find the best prices for any grade of fuel in their area by tapping the screen and selecting a station.

Advanced Weather ($4.99 per year): Get current and 5-day forecasts tailored for major cities in the U.S. and Canada. In addition to what the free weather service provides, Advanced Weather also allows users to receive severe weather alerts and view animated radar images on a map. Colors distinguish types of precipitation such as rain, snow and ice, to help you avoid bad driving conditions.

In addition to using Garmin Live Services, Smartphone Link allows the Garmin GPS to share its favorite locations with the phone. And better yet, the app can help users find their way from a parking spot to their destination and back by displaying both on a map.

Garmin Smartphone Link works with all Bluetooth enabled 2012 Garmin PNDs, the nüvi 2475LT, 2495LMT, 2595LMT, 3490LMT and the all-new 3590LMT, the company’s most feature-packed 5” navigator. All of these models require a software update, except the nüvi 3590LMT. Garmin Smartphone Link is available from the Android Market at no cost. To learn more, go to



The Exceptional iPhone SIRI


Siri, or something similar, would become the norm for interfacing with smart phones and in doing so it would define the future of local search (and everything else). Well it seems to have succeeded on the everything front but just not on the local search front. The Siri natural language interface is a metaphor for interaction that will supplant the need for typing and can provide a hands free way to interact with smaller devices when typing is dangerous (ie driving) or awkward (ie all the time).

It works incredibly well and as John Gruber noted: “I wouldn’t say I can’t live without Siri. But I can say that I don’t want to.” It is that good.

It is hands down the best way to speedily create and send text messages regardless of whether you are driving or sitting. It is the best way to get driving directions detailed on the iPhone Google Map app. It is the best way to search the web whether you want to use Google, Yahoo or Bing. In fact it even fixes what was so miserably wrong with voice search in the Google app.

Its ability to understand what you want and what you are saying is uncanny. Even with background noise. I am a convert and while I will most definitely use it while driving, it may very well become my preferred interface for many other things as well.

It truly is a harbinger of a new level of functionality for interacting with your phone (and any small device for that matter). I won’t leave home without it.


Siri can either interact with other apps or it can answer some things directly. For example you can say “Text Aaron I will be late picking you up” at which points it interprets your instructions, performs a voice to text translation, double checks its accuracy with you, understands that you want to text and then sends the note via the iMessage app. With some data types it will just answer you inside of the Siri environment. That is the design for interaction with both Wolfram Alpha and Yelp.

Danny Sullivan noted yesterday that when searching for local businesses, Siri accurately provides a list from Yelp but then doesn’t allow you to call the location, look at reviews or even get more details. For whatever reason, Apple and Yelp have decided to limit the functionality of the local search in such a way so that it is essentially useless, forcing a user to a different data source for the information.

Having marvelled at Siri’s capability, it is easy to imagine saying to Siri – “make a reservation at the Ho-Ste-Geh restaurant for 2″, “read me the reviews for the Rennas” or even “Add the Robins Nest’s contact details to my address book”. But the local search capability, doesn’t do any of that.

There are alternatives for a user of Siri to get local information. You just need to use the web search functionality of Google, Bing or Yahoo (use one or all three) by saying “Look on the web for a nearby restaurant” or “Google breakfast restaurants”. On the plus side, it no longer takes that 6 touches that Google voice search required to make a hands free call. Now when doing a local recovery search on Google it takes just one touch after the voice interaction to complete the call. And Siri does such a significantly better job of getting the search right the first time than Google voice search ever did. You wonder where Siri has been hiding.

But in limiting the functionality of the built in local search functionality, Apple and Yelp are missing a chance to change user behaviors. In not changing user behaviors from the gitgo they may miss the opportunity to break the habit later on. Natural language voice search on the smartphone is a long game, and the 1 million iPhones so far sold are just a drop in the bucket of the market. The real game is yet to come.

There is every reason to believe, seeing what else Siri can do, that increased local search functionality will arrive. But regardless of whether this was Yelp’s choice or Apple’s, from where I sit, this is an opportunity lost to win a battle in a long war.