If it's been years since you've traveled to Bing Maps, Microsoft may have just given you a reason to perhaps consider a re-visit.
The Redmonders are out with a Bing Maps Preview app for Windows 8.1, and while it's limited to just some 70 cities for now, it offers a glimpse at what Microsoft has planned for nav down the road.
With a crack team of "world builders from the video game industry, expert photogrammetrists, high definition aerial cameras and a massive data pipeline," the re-built app aims to give users a more natural view of the world and all its roads, routes and destinations.
The end result is a maps app that looks to challenge Google Earth at every turn, down to the sweeping landscapes rendered in 3D images. It may be limited for now, but the Bing Maps Preview gives a very good taste of things to come.
What's new in Bing Maps Preview
The app includes Windows 8.1's Snap Views, notifications and Live Tiles, features that lived in some form in the Windows 8 app. However, there are a few newer comers that make the Bing Maps Preview that much better.
Among the additions is bubble view in Streetside, giving users a close-up preview of the Streetside angle while still keeping a broad, overhead perspective. The tech is so advanced (gasp!) views will change accordingly as users rotate the map.
The new app also makes use of a readily available search box located in the top right-hand corner, and nav tools are located on the left-hand side of the interface.
With improved traffic notifications, users can save a favorite route and set up a specific time they want to check traffic conditions. The real-time info will populate a Live Tile on the Start screen or as a notification when inside Windows.
Local Scout has found its way to the Preview app as well, offering deets on nearby places to eat, shop, park, etc. Suggestions in "picks for you" are based on users past search history, Facebook friends' preferences and popular spots in the area.
Finally, the app comes equipped with integrated Skype support, popping open a Snap View window within the app so users can make a call with a click.
The Bing Maps Preview is available in the Windows Store now.