Google Maps and Microsoft....Bing?

A couple of major announcements from the big web mapping API folks came out recently.

First, Google has launched a Maps Data API, which is what it sounds like - you can store map data in the cloud and retrieve it. Now you can do some basic mapping projects without having to worry about spatial data storage and bandwidth overhead. Aside from those benefits, Google will also index your data for searching through Google Maps and will purportedly render your data more quickly, though I’m not sure what magic it’s using there. This is a pretty significant move by Google, and there are already some cool apps taking advantage of it. They have one that will let users with an Android phone create maps on the fly, integrating with the phone’s position via GPS and the camera/video. My empire for an Android phone. My comes free with your contract phone can’t even play pong.

Google also just announced the release of Google Maps API v3. Among the updates here are additional browser support (mobile Safari et al), no more keys required (YES!), faster loading, the UI on by default, and improvements to the geocoding API. The no key bit hasn’t seemed to trickle down to their JSAPI loading yet, as it still gives a warning if I take the key out and post it on a web server. But they’ll probably iron that out soon.

As you might expect, Microsoft isn’t standing still for these Google Maps innovations, going so far as to change the name of Virtual Earth. What is the new name you ask?

Yes, Bing. Bing Maps. Bing Maps for Enterprise. I’m serious. Bing.

James Fee pretty much captured the universal response. Although I’m not averse to tossing a few darts at Microsoft, sometimes I just feel bad for those guys. This would be one of those times.