Live Maps to me is practically the best web mapping service out there. It’s fast, easy to use, and it’s a joy to work with.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t use some improvements.
The latest version Live Maps 2.0 (under the new Windows Live 2 UI, as of 12/3/07), is definitely a good version. I might not have recommended the first version, but the 2nd version is definitely worth using.
So what improvements could Live Maps use. Actually, what new features could it use?
So here’s my top list of features/improvements I want to see soon:
- Street View-like feature – A definite must-HAVE. Birds-eye view is nice, but nothing beats anything closer to the ground. I’m hoping to see something similar to Google Street View, but faster, more high-res, and offer more cities to look browse through. Anything that’s NOT just a simple catch-up, I want something completely knocks off the socks off of what Google offers.
- GPS coordinates – I want to be able to an exact coordinate (longitude and latitude) and have Live Maps find it instantly. I think it’s a pretty important feature, and with Virtual Earth’s dynamo scroll out/in, this would be the bomb.
- Better international support – This is a big issue for many fellow Live users. Microsoft’s (or most American companies) support for other countries is rather weak. Features that come on the U.S. part, don’t make it to the international versions for awhile, for the most part. And that has some angry. So how about more 3D cities, aerial views, and even Birds-eye view everywhere else? I also know that Google and Y! aren’t any better, so why doesn’t Microsoft take the lead and give them what they deserve first? Tapping into an untapped market can bring instant success and create life-long users.
- Get rid of stupid names like Collections and Live Search Maps – Ok, two of the most dumb long names put in Live Maps is "Collections" and "Live Search Maps". "Collections" should just simply be MyMaps. Or something simple for even a newbie to understand. And "Live Search Maps", the name of the whole thing, should just be simply "Live Maps". This service isn’t only for searching you know. Exploring and searching are quite different, and Live Maps isn’t all about search. So maybe changing these dumb names will make it more understandable.
- Fix up Live Local – I used to think Live Local and Live Maps were the same thing. WRONG. Live Maps is the mapping service, Live Local is the service used to find specific things near YOU. Well the latest version of Live Local is buggy. The site fails on me a lot. There’s links where there shouldn’t be, a few links may lead you to an error, you can’t rate a review by thumb’s up or thumb’s down, no place for a user to see all his/her’s reviews, no health ratings, and it’s pretty sucky at the most. I would like to see MS fix it up more.
- Speed up Virtual Earth 3D – Sometimes Virtual Earth 3D can be pretty laggy. I would love if there were a better speed boost for every user. I happen to use high-speed, and I think this experience is rather laggy.
- Gas prices – How about putting up a Gas prices map? Like a specific one for traffic, how about one for gas prices? I happen to know that MSN Autos already has this feature, but it uses the old Microsoft MapPoint technology, and isn’t as dynamic or easy to use. So how about Microsoft just puts that info. into Live Maps and make it better? Many Americans definitely want to see a gas prices map.
- More map overlays – Just like traffic and gas prices, more specialized maps would be awesome. Stuff like weather, bus routes, subway routes, population hotzones, national parks, and other stuff like that. They could all be put in a special drop-down list called "Info Maps", because they provide a lot of info. People look for these kind of things, and having it all on the site would be neat.
- Outer site to show off Live Maps – How about a site to show some cool things about Live Maps like tips, tricks, popular shared collections, place of the day, how to use the tools, interactive site navigation tutorial, Top 10 City Events in your area, What’s New?, Latest entries from the Virtual Earth/Live Maps blog, and such and such? I’m think the link should be : http://mapfun.live.com/
- Show the North Pole! –
this is a common feature that’s not seen on many maps. I’m not sure why. You can see up to the arctic ocean and Greenland, but not much beyond that. I don’t know why. Weird. So maybe Live Maps can be the first to actually show the North Pole? And it would be even more awesome if there were high-res around the ‘actual’ North Pole. That would be really amazing, and it fits around this time of the year.As one commenter said, you can’t really show the North Pole on a stereographic map projection. BUT, I think maybe the Live team could put the North Pane in a separate small pane, with a quick reason as to why it’s not in the whole map. Better than nothing.
- Go beyond the Earth – How about the moon? Or Jupiter? Or Mars? How about teaming up with the NASA WorldWind team to create something together? If you haven’t used WorldWind, it’s really amazing. It’s like Google Earth, but better. It’s fast, the UI is really simple, and it works. NASA WorldWind also does a few other planets and the moon. Maybe the Live team can make some sort of deal, and bring that stuff in a web browser, instead of a free program. That would really be something.
So that’s pretty much my whole list of what Live Maps could use. Hopefully, maybe the team will take in a suggestion or two.
Maybe I might make a difference.