Bing Maps gets new color scheme and more legible features

It's always kind of cool when Microsoft updates that back-end of Bing Maps because you don't need to, you know, do anything. Sure, it's not better voice-navigation nor Ovi Maps, but the changes are not exactly subtle either. Instead, what we have in the mobile version of Bing Maps more closely matching the desktop version.

Most of the changes deal with the color scheme of roads, with purple denoting major highways, blue secondary roads and grey for back roads. Text looks a bit easier to read and perhaps its just us, but the app seems to handle downloading and caching maps a lot easier, resulting in faster scrolling. Other than that, we're not noticing too much else but we're betting this may be a regional thing too.

Shout out in comments if you noticing anything and we'll add it.

Source: MobileTechWorld; via Pocketnow

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Good. Maps/navigation is one of the few things that Android still does way better than Windows Phone. It is a big reason I am hanging on to my old Android phone even though I just got a Windows Phone. Bing Maps is just horrible, even with the new color scheme. Google Maps is so much easier to read.Microsoft also needs to allow plugins into the messenger application to allow other messaging services such as GTalk. Hopefully they make their own Skype ability soon.Sideloading without a developer account would be great. I have one now for free since I'm going to school, but I'd prefer not to pay $100 to have my phone (somewhat) unlocked.Finally multi-tasking. Improved with Mango but I'd still like real multi-tasking.
  • People always talk about "real multitasking" What benefit does that afford you than the limited multitasking Windows Phone and and iPhone implement?
  • No one wants their multitasking to be smooth, they want the lag. Without a laggy, bad experience multitasking just doesn't feel authentic. Fix it Microsoft, I want to feel that I am multitasking.
  • hahahahah. very nice. :)
  • One example is my GPS tracking program. I like to take my phone with me when I go run. RunKeeper tracks my path. Unfortunately on Windows Phone, if I switch out of RunKeeper it stops tracking because it isn't allowed to continue running. I can't even go to the Zune software, I can only play/pause/forward/back using the volume control pop-up.People like you (on the iPhone side) are the ones who were saying that multi-tasking wasn't needed until Apple implemented limited multi-tasking. Now limited multi-tasking is all that is needed. That is until full multi-tasking gets implemented if it does. Then limited multi-tasking would suck.Face it, there are actual uses for it. To fix the "lag" the multi-tasking causes (it doesn't really unless you leave crappy programs running) they could make it so you have to manually give applications full multi-tasking permission.
  • @peterfares...Insightful. The example that you provided with RunKeeper makes sense. Do you know if the developer of the RunKeeper app could program it to continue to run after you leave the app or is it just not possible? I was planning on getting this app when I purchase a WP device, but it seems pointless now if I can't track my workout and/or listen to some tunes while doing so, at the same time.
  • Not possible with WP. Technically the OS can do, Microsoft just has to allow it. You can have a playlist set up beforehand and use the volume control dropdown to go forward/back (or the buttons on a headset if it has them) but you can not switch out of RunKeeper or it will stop.
  • @peterfares...Thanks for the explanation.
  • You're joking, right?I came from webOS, and let me tell you what was (is!) better about my POS Palm Pre than my Windows Phone: Multitasking.Here's what I could do on my Pre that I can't do today even after 7.5, which is something I used to do *all the time* by the way:1) Launch my turn-by-turn navigation program (same one on both, BTW, Telenav).2) Launch some audio service (Pandora, streaming radio, etc.).3) Plug into my car audio jack and get turn-by-turn directions and music streamed simultandously to my phone.4) Decide to change what I'm listening to, so switch to my audio app and lo-and-behold, my turn-by-turn directions *keep coming.*5) Get a text, decide to switch to my messaging application. Audio keeps running, turn announcements keep coming, texting gets done!This kind of scenario happens all the time. When your phone properly multitasks, the fact that some new task comes up that demands your attention does not mean you have to abandon what you were in the middle of. Just like on a desktop, you just launch the appropriate application, accomplish the job, and go back to what you were doing.Furthermore, on WP7, the system maddeningly keeps only the last 5 sessions open, even if three of them were SMS sessions to different people. On webOS, if you didn't have enough memory to launch a new program, *you* got to chose what to close to make the memory available. If something was really important to you and you wanted to keep it open, you did!Now, as one of the commenters has joked, you do get lag. This could be a tradeoff, for sure, and I *love* how silky smooth my WP is. webOS was the laggiest. thing. ever. That said, it seemed to lag equally whether I was multitasking or not, so I'm not honestly so sure that that had anything to do with it.
  • I'm glad you can't do all anymore that while driving your car - you'd be a horrifically dangerous driver.
  • WebOS is unoptimized and the hardware it was running on was inadequate. Even on the TouchPad with a dual core 1.2GHz processor it still lags. I must say its multi-tasking system is the best. I installed Android on my TouchPad and I forgot I can't press the button to bring up the cards anymore. It just goes home. Holding it gets a list of apps. The cards system is much nicer.WebOS needed optimization and better hardware. The idea was great.
  • You do know there are good Gmaps ports on WindowsPhone also, don't you?Personally, I'm a great fan of Gmaps, which I use all the time since in JP Microsoft doesn't provide BingMaps for those using their phone in English (go figure why...)
  • Yeah, my WM 6.5 version of Bing did maps way better also and is why I keep it for long trips. I refuse to pay 30 bucks or more for an app my old phone used to have for free. Hopefully, we don't have to wait another year for an improvement, but my guess is that we will.
  • Awesome feature of this update for those in the UK: the maps now show Rail and London underground stations with clear symbols from a much higher zoom level.That's a massive improvement for me, I also notice that the road names have new symbols for road users. The only thing still missing is junction numbers :-)
  • Agreed, Junction numbers is something needed! I would also like Motorways to be Blue and Major A roads to be Green though as when you zoom out it becomes harder to tell if the numbers aren't shown for a long stretch.
  • Same here in France. We've got much more details (more metro stations, more railways, more POI...). I guess US users will not notice that it has improved a lot since it was already OK there :)
  • I'm in the US and have never heard of a "junction number." Would we call that an "Exit?"
  • Yeah or off-ramp I believe. I got annoyed at GPSVoice (or whatever it's called) because it kept saying "RAMP RIGHT IN..." I'm like "WOMAN WE DON'T 'RAMP' WE 'TAKE THE EXIT' AND IT'S LEFT NOT RIGHT!!" hahah silly American apps (no offence!).
  • Seems twice as fast on my phone. It still could use another speed boost of this same magnitude but at least when you add traffic its not as painfully slow as it was before. With some more improvements like this and a better navigation feature Bing Maps could easily surpass Google Maps (at least in US).
  • I just don't see this happening anytime soon. Google Maps for Android is still light years ahead of Bing Maps. I used it when I had my Evo and I still use if on my GF's Epic 4G Touch. There's just no comparison. The basemap improvement is a small step in the right direction, but it needs to be a complete overhaul.'s a site where you can compare basemaps side-by-side. Zoom in to the same area on both maps and be amazed at just how much more legible the GMaps basemap is when compared to the BingMaps basemap.
  • I see what you mean with the quality of the imaging and Google having better satellite shots. Thanks for that link, btw. That being said Google Maps looks like a typical Google product. It's fugly and not aesthetically pleasing. Plus in terms of road layout it's far too busy and can be a problem when you need to find something quickly. Given the choice between Bing Maps and Google Maps I'll use Bing Maps in all instances except when I need military grade pictures....which is almost never.
  • To be honest, I was referring to the streets basemap. I had forgotten that the link sent you to the satellite imagery, which is universally years old across all platforms. Where you see cluttered, I see informative. Search "Chicago, IL" and then turn on the roadmap for both maps. The Google Map conveys so much more information at a glance - points of interest, road type/level of service, different types of rail stations. The Bing map is a mess in comparison and conveys much less information.
  • People on this site seem completely biased toward Microsoft. They aren't truly comparing the features side by side. Google Navigation is WAY better than what we have on Windows Phone. I love my Windows Phone, but Navigation is one of the reasons I'm not getting rid of my Android phone.
  • I agree with you. I still have my GF's Android phone to fall back on, and when we go places together and we need to use GPS, we always use Google Nav on her device.That said, I'm a total WP7 convert and Bing Maps and the lack of GChat support are the only real gripes I still have. Everything else is awesome and I don't see myself switching to another platform any time soon.
  • To me they look pretty identical... Google really needs to work on their zooming performance. It looks embarrassing when they are right next to each other.
  • I was just looking at that comparison site and am amazed. What really got me is that Bing Maps is still missing a whole country: South Sudan. I mean, that's just stupid, an entire country is not even recognised by Bing Maps.
  • As an old Nokia fan. (E71x, 5230, 6650...) BRING US Nokia (OVI) Maps!!!
  • Well, purchase a Nokia WP device and your request will be granted! Or hopefully, you'll be able to purchase the Nokia Maps app when it becomes available.
  • Bing Maps doesn't need new colors. It needs to show more information. Take 2 mobiles, run Google Maps on one and Bing on the other, zoom to the same section of a city. Notice that Google Maps shows about 10 times more street names than Bing, because Bing's font is so unnecessarily large.What Bing Maps needs is step-by-step directions to Google Maps.
  • The upgrade I'm waiting for is turn-by-turn. For many people, this is a dealbreaker and I can understand why they aren't signing up for Windows Phone that lacks real GPS navigation functionality.
  • Do we have to download an update for this? Or is it all backend stuff that's just changed and will be displayed without an update?
  • I had my first real "test" with my Arrive as I just got back from a week in Wash DC...I am a bit let down by the results...half the time when using it to walk my way to the monuments or museums it would take me a block or two in the wrong direction...I know some of the museums/monuments span a whole block but it was sending me to a completely wrong intersection...My wife quickly gave up on me and my Arrive for directions I hate to say...hopefully Microsoft will keep making improvements in this area...
  • I'd have to agree about Bing. The new maps look much improved, but unfortunately Bing is just way behind Google. Roads out of date, businesses out of date, reviews lacking in number. I don't think MS can compete on the services front. They make great operating systems, and WP7 is easily my favorite mobile OS. Leave the services to sites like Google, Yelp, Tripadvisor, and integrate into those.
  • ^ This.
  • It changes nothing. Bing is still so mediocre in Europe.Sorry, but Bing Map is almost unusable and is far behind Google Maps.Most street names are not even displayed in Bing Map. this is silly.I don't know why they ade the fonts so large and why they are unable to display the street name into each street.Information, maps and Poi are also totally outdated.Please MS, if you are unable to provide a decent service to your European customers so let Google Maps come to WP7. Google Maps works fine here and it's great.
  • I think there is a user made Google Map client that is pretty good. Bing here is awesome, but I have heard from many that it isn't so good in many parts of the world. Same with Zune and Xbox, not sure why MS has so much trouble getting deals in other parts of the world.