Sunday, February 5, 2012

Let the maps win: Google Map (“GM”) or Bing Map (“BM”)

After a lot of popularity gained by BM, I was intrigued to use BM and compare how BM can compete with GM. GM has always been my preferred choice, however, it would be remiss on my part not to analyze both of these maps in terms of better usability. I have tested comparatively the usability of both GM and BM as follows:
1.       Search places
Let us see which of the two maps offers the best basic mapping, for example, let us search for University of Ottawa, Canada. From the two snapshots below, we observe that GM is easily understandable than BM. GM seems to be more relaxing to eyes and visually attractive, for example, the roads (major and minor), airports etc. are very well highlighted than BM.
GM Snapshot 1:

 BM Snapshot 1:

2.       Directions
Both GM and BM are quite similar while looking for directions. Therefore, there is not much difference amongst these two maps in this regard.
GM Snapshot 2:

BM Snapshot 2:

3.       Business Listings
Let us look for restaurants near University of Ottawa. GM gives a comprehensive list of restaurants near the University, whereas BM shows no results as shown below.
GM Snapshot 3:

 BM Snapshot 3:

4.       Imagery
This is the only section where I feel that BM clearly beats GM. The BM's Bird's eye view provides a much clear view than the satellite view of GM which often gets blurred as one zooms in. BM automatically shifts to 45-degree imagery, which can be rotated at different angles as compared to merely a vertical satellite view provided by GM.
BM Snapshot 4:

BM Snapshot 4 (Different angle view):

GM Snapshot 4 (Satellite view):

5.       Street view
BM, like GM also offers interactive street view, however, it is restricted to certain roadsides only. GM has a much wider coverage area providing great comfort to the users in identifying their desired locations and landmarks. GM offers a much enhanced feel than BM to the users about familiarity with new places.
GM Snapshot 5:

BM Snapshot 5:

In my overall opinion, GM is a clear winner in all aspects other than the imagery feature.It is more user-friendly than BM. However, the 45-degree imagery feature of BM offers very interesting and useful browsing experience. However, I feel that BM is miles away from GM unless it would enhance usability by improving its features such as basic mapping attractiveness, search for commercial listings and streetside view. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. It is important to distinguish 'functionality' from 'usability' though. Many of your comments related to additional functionality that GM or BM have.

    There is a grey area where these two concepts overlap, but in general it is best in this blog to focus on areas where software is easy/hard to learn, or slow/quick for the more experienced people to get their tasks done, and that leads users to make many/few errors.