Through a partnership with early Google Street View partner Immersive Media MapQuest has launched “360 View” in 30 cities and 15 suburbs, with more coverage to come. This is like the Google Street View (v 1.0) or Bing’s new Street Side photography, which requires Silverlight. Below are some images.
Orange circles indicate areas of coverage (click to enlarge):
As you zoom in it looks like this:
You initiate 360 View by checking a box on the map in the upper right:
It wasn’t working totally smoothly for me this morning. There are two nice things here, beyond the introduction of the photography itself: The photo next to the map (see image above) and the hover preview of the 360 image. The latter right now is too small, however, to be meaningful and needs to be enlarged.
This may surprise and delight MapQuest users who are loyal and don’t use Google. But it’s more than two years too late to be innovative. Street View debuted in May, 2007. So this is strictly catch up. And overall MapQuest’s user experience lags Google Maps and Bing across several fronts. Having not used MapQuest (other than to try features) in some time I did a bunch of searches this morning and it’s much more rigid and not as intuitive than Google Maps.
Google overtook MapQuest early this year and has been opening up a lead. Right now there are about 16 million more monthly users of Google Maps than MapQuest. That number will only grow unless there are some development resources devoted to MapQuest. It’s really one of the “jewels” in AOL’s tarnished crown.
This development clearly seems at odds with my earlier prediction that MapQuest would outsource everything to Bing. So we’ll see. My guess is that this was in the works for some time before the current reorg at MapQuest.
While it wouldn’t take that much to make the UX better at MapQuest, it’s unclear that AOL will be investing the necessary resources. Indeed, I still think we’ll see some version of outsourcing to Microsoft announced in the near future. This is only speculation on my part.