Bing Maps gets distance calculation and more features to make trips easier
Microsoft has announced a handful of new features for Bing Maps for anyone trying to use the service to plan trips. The new Bing Maps feature include distance calculation, a gas price finder, and parking finder.
Distance calculation is the newest of the bunch, and it’s actually somewhat surprising this wasn’t available before. When you input two or more locations into Bing Maps, the service can now tell you how long that trip will be, including calculations for different routes, if they’re available. You can check the distance between two points, or add more waypoints along the trip to see the distance calculation change in real-time. This is probably one of the reasons you’d use a mapping service like this in the first place, so it’s certainly a welcome addition.
Another new feature is a gas price map, which lets you see information about gas prices in a specific area. You can search for “Gas in Seattle” – or somewhere else if you’re planning to stop by during a trip – and it’ll show you the gas prices within a 5-mile radius. This should make it easier to find the best prices so you can save money on your trip. It can also just help you find a lace to get gas if it’s somewhere you’ve never been before and you don’t know your way around.
Finally, there’s the parking finder app, which is also fairly straightforward. You can simply search for parking in a given location, and Bing Maps will surface all available parking lots in the vicinity, both on the map and as a list on the side, so you can quickly choose one to see more information about it. This can include an address phone number, or what type of parking space it is, such as outdoor/indoor parking.
None of these features are all that new if you’re used to Google Maps (which you probably are), but they should be welcome all the same if you prefer using Bing Maps. Microsoft does note that it’s using a unique API for all the features related to distance by time – as in, searching for locations using such as “where can I get to in 30 minutes?”. Instead of searching in a circular radius from a location, the Isochrone API (as it’s called) uses a different algorithm based on polygons, and it takes into account obstacles that increase the actual travel distance. For example, a gas station might be in close proximity to you, but if it’s across a river and you need to drive a long time to cross it, then it’s no longer considered to be close to your location.
Microsoft didn’t say where these features are available, but it’s safe to assume that they won’t work everywhere, specifically in regard to parking and gas prices. The company also recently rolled out other features for Bing itself to make it easier to plan trips by helping you find places to visit and stay.