Last week, we shared with you a whole batch of news both on the part of Google (Caffeine, Gmail chat and more) and Bing (CashBack, Safari, maps and social results among other novelties) as we reported on their ongoing competition to woo Apple. Both search engines had issued news on their Maps features but news kept pouring in on those apps as the week came to a close. Here's what you need to know.
Google Street View With User Photos Overlay
In a continued effort to improve user experience on Google Maps and from last year's starting point of integrating user-submitted photos into Street View, Google has taken the app a step further by overlaying those user-generated pictures to the Street View panorama.
Here's a quick tour, using Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris:
Notre Dame, main picture. The options for user-submitted views appear as thumbnail choices on the facade.
Viewing of one of the options:
And another one:
Yes, it is really impressive but what's the real point of this? It's great if you can't travel and would like to take a peek at other places from the comfort of your home (or office, for that matter). My take is that this user-submitted content is one way of diffusing the ongoing privacy issues related to Google's rogue Wi-Fi data collection. As Frank Watson reported, the search engine could be facing as many as 30 lawsuits across the globe.
Bing Maps Out Facebook Friends
Meanwhile, Bing also launched its own overlay feature: Facebook friends localized on Bing Maps.
Once you get on Bing Maps, you can log into Facebook. It looks like this:
Then what? Then, a map comes up with the locations of all your friends and you can even post to their walls from the Bing Map page.
This is the image Bing gave on its blog
It only works if your friends have listed a location under "current city." Lots of friends in one place? Not to worry, Bing has got it under control with their de-clustering algorithm: "it will spin their photos into a circle and tether them back to the location with a line."
Again, what's the point? Most people don't bother changing their "current city" location as they travel so your friends are where they are and there's nothing more to it. But that's just the user side. The search engine side is more interesting, so to speak. By tying in that Facebook content, Bing has access to information about your whole network, your whole world wide network of friends. The company has already meshed Facebook searches to its SERP and this Map feature will probably grant them access to a whole array of information they would otherwise not have been able to crawl.
See where I'm getting at? Yes... Privacy issues. Again. Because, yes, for the app to work, you will have to authorize access to your profile and from there on... who (apart from Facebook and Bing) knows what data they can lift off?
The bottom line remains the same: don't put online anything that you would not want crawled eventually by a sharp search engine.
What sort of data do you think they will be able to crawl and index?