Microsoft today unveiled a completely redesigned version of Bing Maps for the Web. The new look is currently in preview, and the company plans to keep updating it based on user feedback before it makes it broadly available.
That said, the Bing Maps Preview is only available in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Africa. More markets will get the preview “in the near future.”
During the research phase, Microsoft says it learned “people want one experience that brings together the best content in one view, that fully reflects what they are planning, not just their last search.” As such, the new Bing Maps lets you search, view, and share multiple places at one time, see reviews and photos from Microsoft’s partners, view rich visuals and information for the places you plan to visit, and plan your travel times.
In terms of just the design, the Bing Maps Preview has new results cards and a new layout. The results cards show information (such as hours of operation, similar businesses, and services nearby) for multiple destinations to the left of the map. The new layout is touch-friendly and designed to be “more intuitive”: You can choose your preferred map style (Aerial, Road) by simply clicking the button to the right of the map, and you can perform actions such as “save as favorite,” “add to route,” and “view streetside” by simply right-clicking.
As for search and directions, the Bing Maps Preview has enhanced directions, a new Along the Route feature, and improved Streetside views. The first means Bing now uses predictive routing: If you input the day and time you plan to travel, you’ll get a more accurate estimated travel time. Along the Route shows you hotels, restaurants, and gas stations located on the way to your destination (very useful, and frankly something Microsoft beat Google to). Streetside views have a new split-screen layout that lets you view your destination right above the map indicating its location (you can also take a 360-degree tour of the area).
Finally, the Bing Maps Preview has new personalization features. You can now save your most visited and most loved destinations in My Places (under work, home, or favorite) — they will also be accessible in Cortana and the Windows Maps app. You can also share travel plans with others: Your travel companions will receive an email with a set of the aforementioned results cards.
This redesign is squarely aimed at the desktop, but Microsoft says the mobile experience will get its own set of updates soon. Given that the company last week sold its map imagery tech to Uber, it seems today’s update is meant to show Microsoft is still pushing forward with the consumer-facing service. Based on all the above features, we’d say that goal has been achieved.