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Google Maps vs the Rest 242

Andrew writes "Shortflip.com has an interesting article on the history, present, and future of 3D satellite imaging applications. Obviously they focus on Google Maps, but they make a good case for Google's competitors, although it's hard to imagine anyone being able to challenge Google's market share in the near future. Emphasis is on user features, map accuracy, and future technology."
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Google Maps vs the Rest

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    True 'dat. DOUBLE TRUE.
  • I like the "rest" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @07:32PM (#14812875)
    I've tried Google Maps looking at where I live. I prefer http://www.zillow.com/ [zillow.com] which is tens of times better in resolution.

    (This isn't an aim at advertising. It's just my opinion because I tried the rest.)
    • Zillow is very interesting. I believe it uses much of the same technology. Since I work at a County agency, we actually supply Google with some of their images and image data. The odd thing is - we then purchase Google Earth to utilize that data. (Actually there's some deal I believe.)

      I like the application of Zillow for how it interacts with the home value, surrounding values and the mapping data. Now we just need to see if the braniacs at Google pick up the idea. :)
    • Re:I like the "rest" (Score:4, Informative)

      by takeya ( 825259 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @07:43PM (#14812970) Journal
      MS Live ( http://maps.live.com/ [live.com] forwards to the right address) provides higher-than-google res in most of the US, especially rurual areas and the odd city that didn't get coverage.

      It also uses more outdated photos.
      • It can't even find my address, says I don't exist. And yes, the address was in perfect format which works on google and yahoo maps.

        Also, doesn't it just bother you that the entire live site is a complete intentially obvious rip off of googles portal and maps?
      • I'm sorry, but if everyone else can make a map application that works on all platforms then so can Microsoft. The fact that they've decided to only support IE is so typical... and irritating. I might actually use their site if it worked with Safari. Is that too much to ask?
      • When I checked out an address for myself, zillow did the best, Google did the second best, and maps.live.com did the worst.
        • It will depend. I live in a rural area of New England with no aerial imagery in Google, so MS provides the closest usable view of my land, though many years old.

          It also provides the closest zoomed in pictures of some major cities with "birds eye view" which is probably the most accurrate and amazing imaging I've seen online.

          Unforunately Zillow didn't load any locations for me.
      • I shy away from most things Microsoft, but honestly, they blow away the competition in so many small services (which is overshadowed by their OS flaws most of the time). For instance, I think for video conferencing, Microsoft has the upper hand their version on MSN which looks really nice maximized on a TV set (living room video phone setup).

        Microsoft's Live Local is truely an exciting picture to see even after using Google Earth/Maps. The "Bird's Eye" view of my own house is a bit dated but very detailed
        • It's not like those images are live video feeds, and there simply aren't enough satallites out there to continually monitor the entire planet; the cost of putting enough system in orbit for that would be prohibitive, even for the government. It might be possible for someone in control of the satallite to direct it at a fixed position for a live feed, but doing so would require exclusive use of the satallite, and would probably significantly shorten its lifespan (they only carry so much fuel). Even if the ma
      • MS Live has unusable resolution in its aerial photos for places outside the US, and zillow doesn't have anything, so for the majority of the world, Google is the clear leader. US-only coverage is a sign of immaturity (Google Maps was there about 2 years ago).
        • for the majority of the world, Google is the clear leader. US-only coverage is a sign of immaturity

          For aerial photos, yes, Google is the best I've seen.

          On the other hand, for actual map data, MS's offering seems to be considerably better than Google. Last time I checked, Google Maps only covered the US, Canada, UK, Japan, and the area of Italy around Turin. I've only glanced at the MS clone, but it seems to have detailed maps of all of Europe, at least. Which places it considerably higher up the "maturit
    • Are way out of date. As in, 3-4x off the actual tax assesment from last year of the home I just purchased and the rest of my neighborhood.... or maybe I paid that much too much (tho mine went for less than the others)... hmmmm

      Not to mention, yeh, the images are also several years older than the ones on google.


    • Re:I like the "rest" (Score:3, Informative)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      I find that Mapquest gives much better maps than Google. When zoomed out mapquest gives many more street names, so that you can actually find what you're looking for, or looking for a better point of reference. Check out the links to see what i'm talking about. Mapquest is zoomed out a bit more, but it still shows quite a few street names, google on the other hand shows very few street names until you zoom in a bit more. Google doesn't put the street names unless it can fit it within the width of the str
      • In the same vein, I find that Google's choice of towns to highlight when zoomed out is.. wacky, to say the least. Right around the middle zoom levels, it will show many town names, but few of them are major towns. For instance on this map [google.com], Easton, Phillipsburg, Reading, Trenton(!), New Brunswick, Newark, Jersey City, Parsippany, etc., are all missing. For some reason Hopewell, Jackson and others have larger fonts. Why? I have no idea. Mapquest doesn't seem to be all that much better, though.

        It looks like w
    • Yeah, until you go outside the States. Even Microsoft's new Windows Live Local sucks for outside the US. I can't even see my city in Canada in Windows Live, just a big brown blob. Google Maps/Google Earth can see the roof of my house and some cars out front quite readily. Considering I live in Canada, Google's mapping and sattelite services are the only ones of any use to me.
    • I'm a google fanboy, but as far as directions go, I have to agree with you. I've tried using google maps 3 times and each time something like mapquest had clearer and more useful directions. Its nice for the images, but not the directions.
  • "it's hard to imagine anyone being able to challenge Google's market share in the near future..."

    Where was Google five years ago? (LOL)

  • On a satellite imaging program that allows me to zoom in on a nude beach.

    If you could do it in movies in the early 90's, you would think by now in 2006 there would be a version we all can use to perve on our naturalist friends. :D
  • Lazy Sunday (Score:3, Funny)

    by ThousandStars ( 556222 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @07:36PM (#14812906) Homepage
    Parnell: I pick up Yahoo maps to find the dopest route

    Samberg: I prefer Map quest

    Parnell: That's a good one too

    Samberg: Google maps is the best

    Parnell: True dat

    Together: DOUBLE TRUE!

  • The article's really about Google Earth, not Google Maps...
    • Yeah...and look at the comments from people saying "I love Google Maps" and "Google Maps rocks" and "Google Maps" blah blah. Does *anyone* even bother reading the linked articles nowadays or are they just waiting to get in their pointless 2 cents?

      I know quality of comments is /.'s strength, but people could you atleast take a couple of minutes to read what you're going to comment upon???
  • It is practically useless to me, since it doesn't have hi-res satellite or aerial photography and maps for most of Europe except Great Britain and Ireland.

    So if they want to be the best, they should improve on that area, and include at least Europe on Google Maps.
  • by iMaple ( 769378 )
    I am not a huge fan of MS products (since my workstation is a Linux box) but the interface of Live local [live.com] is really nice. Right click support, saved state (I like the google driving direction overlay better) and a nice overall feel. And it works great on my linux box with firefox. Yahoo maps is okay, but of the three I think MS is at present the best (though hopefully google will soon come up with something new in their maps)
    • Google's overall coverage of the entire world is better than Microsoft's, although Microsoft's is nice when searching inside the US. For instance, I can't zoom in on Calgary, Canada, but I can see my house in Google Maps.
  • But I find http://local.live.com/ [live.com] to be a little nicer for checking out what a huge place America really is. You can mark points of interest, zoom with the mousewheel, and get a nifty birds-eye view of a lot of places. Its in beta (and it shows), but has a lot of promise. The only thing wrong with it is its failure to work in safari (but it does fine in firefox and exploder) and some minor bugs (mousewheeling will sometimes zoom and other times pan).
    • local.live.com shows some promise...

      I love the zoom feature - I find it a lot less kludgy feeling than Google maps.

      Cool how it works with the scroll mouse...
    • Doesn't work in Safari--therefore, useless. And I'm certainly not dragging that slow, bloated, ugly thing they call Firefox out of the dungeon just in order to see more of something that's already got "Windows" painted all over it.

      No, there was no point to this comment, and I apologize for having written it. I have anger issues.
    • My problem with it is that it's really just "local". It barely has any global support at all. Try showing Madrid, Tokyo, and many other major cities for example.
  • Waypoints, anyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @07:45PM (#14812992)
    IMO, the only thing missing from Google Maps is the concept of waypoints when making directions.

    By default, you probably want the fastest (hourly) route from A to B.

    Sometimes, you want to take the scenic route.

    If there's a city on the scenic route, it's often too small to appear in Google's database of place names, and/or you'll have to Google for the ZIP code for East Bumfuck, Mississippi.

    Furthermore, the more miles you want to log on the scenic route, the more likely it is that even if you are able to find city/ZIP combinations that correspond to places on the scenic route, the direction-guessing software will still suggest that to drive the 60 miles of scenic winding road between "East Bumfuck, MS" to "West Bumfuck, MS", for example, is to backtrack 5 miles, get on the Interstate, drive 50 miles at 60 mph, until you're 5 miles past your destination, where you backtrack to your destination. (Because 70 miles, 60 of which are at highway speeds, takes less time than 60 miles, all of which are at 25-30 mph.)

    So - waypoints. A UI feature in "Directions" to say "add waypoint", such that directions from A to B are be calculated such that you pass through each (arbitrarily) selected waypoint in between.

  • So far there are only google maps for a few elect countries, and most of the world can only see photos and national boundaries.

    Sites as map24 [map24.com] (Warning JAVA interface) have actual _maps_ for the "rest of the World". That makes me user their services instead of Google.
  • Where Y'At, Google? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday February 27, 2006 @07:50PM (#14813031) Homepage Journal
    I wish the Google Maps website query language were as simple and expressive as the wellknown Web search. Instead, I have to use exactly "W 125th St & Broadway", instead of searching for any of "125St at Broadway" or "W125 and Broadway" etc, even though those styles all refer to the same intersection. How about clicking on any point, and getting its "coordinates" in a popup? Clicking a few points to define an itinerary?

    I'd like to see their GUI highlight an entire street for its entire length, just by naming it. And exit numbers on highways. And mass transit route layers, or at least just stops identified.

    I know it's free, and it's "Beta". I know their standalone Earth app has lots more features. But they pulled it off with text Web searches. I'd like to love their maps as much as their links.
    • http://local.live.com/ [live.com] actually allows you to add pushpins on the map and get directions to and from that point.
    • If I'm already zoomed in so that everything on the screen is in a single city, which is - oh - almost 100% of the time, then typing in "123 Anyplace" should automatically presume that, yes, I want the one that's in the city I'm currently looking at. Not the one in Des Moines, IA (unless that's where I'm looking which, for me at any rate, is rare). This would be especially nice when searching for directions.

      And I agree with the parent about clicking - there have been many times when I want to say, "Get me
    • "W 125th St & Broadway"

      So it's the ampersand? I had been trying in vain for the last couple of days to convince Google that "and" meant intersection.
    • Right. It's even more painful in DC with the quadrant system. If you put commas in the wrong place, Google will just lose it. The trick is to put [## Street Name Quadrant] with no commas at all. When it comes to intersections, I haven't found a way to get them by simply typing it in. You always have to choose from the "Did you mean?" list. And you have to pay attention to what you click on in the list, or you might end up on the wrong side of town (Getting directions for NE instead of NW could be a real pro
  • You know, everytime I want to bring up a map, I still type in mapquest in the URL.

    I know Google maps exists, but typing google in the URL brings up http://www.google.com./ [www.google.com]

    Typing mapquest in the URL takes me directly to http://www.mapquest.com./ [www.mapquest.com]

    They both give me the exact same results, just one gets me there quicker than the other.
    • Ever tried typing an address into the search field on that google.com page you were talking about? The first thing listed will be links to Google, Mapquest, and Yahoo maps for that address...
  • I don't care how many features there are, or how well-done the interfaces are, if these apps can't provide the imagery, they won't be worth much to me. There are huge, huge swaths of densely populated areas that simply do not have any image data available on Google Maps and all of the bells and whistles can't fix that and won't make me any more interested in firing up the app again anytime soon.
  • although it's hard to imagine anyone being able to challenge Google's market share in the near future

    I agree that it's extremely hard, and very few humans on this planet can do it, but one tries really hard, it's actually possible to imagine someone beating 9.45% [zdnet.com].

    Don't try this at home.
  • Out of Google and Microsoft's offerings, Google has the most coverage outside of the US. Take a look at these links for example. I'll compare cities around the world and their coverage in the two offerings.

    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Google : http://local.google.com/local?f=q&hl=en&q=Deerfoot +Mall+in+Calgary&ll=51.109659,-114.042329&spn=0.00 3287,0.007317&t=k [google.com]
    Microsoft : http://local.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&cp=51.04463 2~-114.067612&style=h&lvl=13&sp=adr.64%2C%20Opelik a%2C [live.com]
  • Where are there statistics for any type of map site to be the leader? There's still not one that's perfect.

    Google Maps has the API you can hook into and the neat-o hybrid views, but its ability to properly tell directions is awful. It's happened enough that I know not to rely on it.

    MapQuest has great directions but the interface is still a bit 1999; also, it assumes that when you print you want a map the size of a cracker surrounded by ads and whitespace.

    Map24 [map24.com] is hands-down my favorite for browsing a site A
  • i am most impressed with the multi directional views from msn local i find looking at a builgind using a sim city view much better than from above.
  • It was not until Google Maps released the satellite data along with their mapping services did the focus shift to more three dimensional mapping.

    Er, no. Google bought Keyhole, which has been working for several years now. I've had a paid Keyhole account for years. Google's innovation is giving it away, and offering a more limited version in a standard browser.

  • Which mapping service can find my house.

    Reason: It's a new development. I've lived here now for about 15 months, construction started about 30 months ago.

    maps.google.com - Thinks I am trying to look something up in France.

    www.mapquest.com - Places a really nice pushpin right where my house is, but there are no roads there for the development. So that's interesting, graphics out of sync with database.

    maps.live.com - It's trying to find something over in a town 10 miles away. A restaurant with a name sound
  • I tried Virtual Earth and switched. I liked the images, the scratchpad and the driving directions are MUCH better. Overall, it just feels mor polished, evne though it is quite a bit newer. I tried the Yahoo beta but hate the use of Flash and find it slightly awkward and cluttered.

    I know that a lot of folks on /. will hate and reject anything MS does, but MS is on the right path here. In any case, competition benefits us all, no mater which one you choose.
    • I used it exclusively. Well, until it changed to local.live.com and stopped working with Safari.

      Microsoft, what the hell is wrong with you? Don't you want me to use your system? It's been months.

      I started using Virtual Earth at first because mapblast (MS' directions site) is far better than mapquest or anything else for directions. Line drive maps 4 life.
  • All this seems to be missing the point, which is that we need a source of free map data. (Free as in speech.) Presumably any satellite photos published by the US government are in the public domain - what else is there?
  • for certain cities, but this is the ultimate in driving directions

    http://maps.a9.com/?ypLoc=6975%20Hollywood%20Boule vard%2C%20Hollywood%2C%20CA [a9.com]
  • Although they don't do satellite imagery, I find Map24's [map24.com] directions to be much better than anyone else's. I can set waypoints and avoid toll roads, and their 'fly-along'the-route' thingy is excellent. It's Java-based, not AJAX, but I don't think an AJAX app could do the spiffy 3D stuff at all.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?