Bing vs. Google face-off, round 3


Download Microsoft Bing Maps 3D 4.0 from Fileforum now.


If you've ever used any of the major travel sites like Travelocity or Priceline to plan a business trip, you may have already encountered what I consider to be their principal deficiency thus far: They don't make hotel suggestions based on the hard, raw data about what amenities are in the general vicinity, and what travelers want to see or to have close at hand.

That's why I typically end up choosing my places to stay using a search engine rather than a travel site. First of all (and perhaps you've already noticed), I work on a very limited budget. And though user reviews are helpful, especially the ones from actual people, I need access to resources. Public transportation becomes my best friend. After that, I need auxiliary sources for Internet access should my primary source no longer work. I need to know what office supply stores and electronics stores are within walking distance should something break or need replacement. I need to know the best places to suggest a really good dinner should I end up dining with colleagues or with a source for a story. Is there a semi-decent place for me to pick up a late dinner to go should I be working late from my hotel room? These are all make-or-break matters with me when it comes to staying in a new city -- matters which the major travel sites simply cannot, or do not, address.

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Google has saved my neck before on countless occasions. The exception was Boston, back before satellite imagery was integrated into Google Maps, when it appeared on the surface that my hotel and my bus stop were separated by 200 yards, but in-between those 200 yards was an interstate highway underpass closed to pedestrian traffic. And the sudden surge in quality of Windows Live Mobile, especially from my BlackBerry, was giving me reason to believe there could be competition.

So for today's heat between Google and Microsoft's new Bing service, let's say I had Boston to do all over again. I want an inexpensive hotel that's close to public transportation, places to eat, and vital resources. It can be a respectable distance from the convention center, but not too far because (as I've learned to my horror) a public route that even includes the "T" can consume as much as three miserable hours from your life. Can Google Maps and the new Bing Maps 3D point me to where I should stay? If you're keeping score at home, you'll recall we left things at Bing 2, Google 2.

After a few years of responding to user queries, Google definitely has a handle on how infrequent travelers such as myself tend to navigate. We like to plan for landmarks, and like spinning a navigator's compass, we triangulate our future locations based on those landmarks. If this version of Google Maps had been available several years ago, I would never have ended up staying in hell. I found a respectable candidate for a business-class hotel, the Midtown (this is not an endorsement, I haven't stayed there yet), just across the street from Symphony Station on the Green Line. Google shows you metro stations with blue "M" icons, and rail stations with train icons, on its close-up city maps.

Searching for every piece of information I needed for a decent Boston business trip took me three minutes with Google Maps.

As for office supply stores, there's a Staples on the other side of I-90, which I learned about by clicking Search Nearby on the bubble pointing to the hotel. Now, I've learned that an interstate highway may as well be the Great Wall of China when it comes to walking from place to place in Boston, but the map here shows me that Hynes Convention Center station (not the same as BCEC) is just on the other side of I-90, meaning I can at least get there from underground.

Another "Search Nearby" of "Wi-Fi" reveals that there's a free Wi-Fi zone at the Boston Architectural Center, also near Hynes station. There's also a few places to eat in that area too, though if I'm willing to take more of a pedestrian adventure, I could walk four blocks southeast of the hotel and visit a four-star rated Mike's Diner that looks to be about my speed.

I found out all this information through Google Maps in about three minutes' time. For Bing to be more than just a pretty 3D permutation of Virtual Earth, it needs to clear this very high hurdle.

Next: "Please come to Boston," as sung to Bing...

14 Responses to Bing vs. Google face-off, round 3

  1. giwo says:

    What I noticed (and didn't like) about Bing Maps is that you can't change a route on the fly. With Google maps if I want to avoid a certain street or take a certain highway, I just drag the route, and presto, I have MY directions. With Bing it seems to be their way or the highway (no pun intended).

  2. Tokar says:

    Please do a search on Google and Bing for zip codes...
    "Philadelphia Zip Code"
    "Buffalo Zip Code"
    etc.

    Instant Bing 1, Google 0.

    Bing queries USPS zip code database to give the result you want. Google does not.

    • PC_Tool says:

      First link in Google is to the list, so... *shrug*

      ..and if you replace "Zip code" with "zipcode", they display the same first link. ;)

      Fun to play with, but I still think it's more of a personal preference.

    • gilbys says:

      Tyep "Temperature" in Bing - Bing will display the current weather...I am Binged !!

      • PC_Tool says:

        Depends entirely on your ISP, I would guess.

        Bing gives me my local temp @ home, but Madison, WI's @ work. (Admittedly, Google gets it right, but likely only because I am signed into my account and it likely defaults to my account-specified zip)

        Geo-location. Surprised it took the saearch engines this long to make use of it (even though it's still not 100% dependable). You're right though, Bing probably does have a head-start on this one.,

        FYI: "filehippo opera": Bing's first link is an old version. Google's is Opera 10 Beta. ;) (This beyond anything else is why I use Google for tha majority of my searching...when searching for *specific* items, I've always gotten better responses.)

  3. rmw25 says:

    Frankly. I am surprised that Google isn't farther ahead. After all, Google has had time to work out the bugs and Bing was just released. But then I don't use either but an oldie but goodie fron the late 90's and it still does the job. (no,it's not "Yahooysucks"

    Maybe a better test would be to take the 1st version of Google and test against this 1st version of Bing.
    The one area that google has always been way ahead of MS is in mapping so the results are no surprise4.
    I also agree the key is what you type in the search box. As one commented on another test, there is also an art to searching and little tricks to narrow the results.

    Ms has a long ways to go and by that time internet searches will probablly involved a whole new set of equations that render Bing or whatever obsolete.

    • BCTech says:

      What does it matter that Google has had time to iterate on the concept? If you're making a new car, do you try to compete with the Ford Model-T, or a modern car? Are you going to make a new SUV your flagship model, or choose a hybrid instead?

      Microsoft can plainly see what Google is doing and should be able to make features to match. They should learn from Google's trials, errors, and successes and build on them. Lord knows they've got the money and development resources. Just because it's the first public release doesn't mean it should have a free pass to not at least *match* the competition.

    • DatabaseBen says:

      bing wasn't really "just released"

      it simply microsofts "search live", which has a new look and name.

      as they say, "you can put lipstick on a pig, but its still a pig"

  4. BCTech says:

    Lord knows how this extra comment happened. Betanews: give us the ability to delete a comment within a 5 minute period of posting.

  5. RCS says:

    Google Maps used to be much better than they are. I've had a number of instances just in the past week where they placed an address nowhere near where it really is. For example, do a search for "capital one far rockaway" (without the quotes). Note that locations A & C, although having the same address and phone number, are placed in two different locations on the map, and two different sets of driving instructions are provided. In fact, location 'C' does not even exist - Google directs you to an apartment building. Even MapQuest never did that to me.

  6. CityWalker79 says:

    When it comes to hard data about the location where you're searching for Hotels by geography, I really like the mashup of additional data about the area used by http://www.HotelMapSearch.com. I'm not sure it fits with google's current design model to design map GUI's that detailed but I think Bing and WolfRam may push them in that direction.

  7. mooseter says:

    "Here was the first place I was ever told that I had to sign in to save anything (you don't have to sign into Google Maps)."

    unless i'm misunderstanding what you're saying here, this is absolutely false. if you want to save something to "my maps" in google, you have to sign in. how else when you go back in a week, for instance, is it going to know that you saved it to your map??

  8. sweetpete says:

    Though the previous 2 reviews were pretty good, this one lacked the necessary attention to detail.

    Scott, the reason you weren't asked to log in to Google Maps is because you already were (your screen shot shows you signed in to your Gmail).

    Also, you mention that you can't add a pushpin on the exact spot, but you miss the "Add to Collection" button plastered all over - though funny enough, you use this feature later when you mention not being signed in.

    My search for BCEC in Bing did turn up the convention center (along with Boston Chinese Evangelical Church).

    Anyway, I wanted to point out some obvious errors in the review. I've used both for some time (afterall, Bing Maps is Windows Live Maps) and I find each has some very useful features. I disagree with this reviews assessment and think it's atually a tie.

  9. RejZoR says:

    All great but no one has thoughzt that Bing is actually still very beta while most of the Google tech has been around for months and years. So if Bing has a quirk or two, i don't see anything odd about it. It's beta and it was accessable for only like week or so?

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