Microsoft's Maps platform is getting a boost with the Creators Update

There are a ton of areas that are getting a little bit of love in the Windows 10 Creators Update, but one that may fly a bit under the radar in comparison to the rest is the Microsoft Maps platform. In a new blog post, Microsoft has highlighted some of the new tweaks and features coming to its Maps platform for developers with the Creators update, all of which the company hopes will make for a cleaner, smoother experience.

One of the biggest overall changes is the move to a new 3D Map engine. Both Road and Aerial maps support 3D views and elevations data, which lets developers place labels and points of interest in a more realistic way.

The map engine that is shipping with Windows RS2 update is a 3D map viewer. It displays objects on top of the terrain and uses globe or web Mercator projection model for vector rendering and map interactions. Vectors are full 3D objects in a 3D scene. To place 3D objects correctly, the engine uses elevation data on the vertices of the vector geometry. If you don't supply the altitude values to render points and polylines, they will simply be draped over the terrain surface.

Additionally, a new MapBillboard API is shipping with the Creators Update to give developers a way to display images and signage on a 3D map. You can set an image to show up at a specific location, and it will scale with the rest of the scene as the camera zooms and pans, Microsoft says.

MapBillboard API

Also new with the Creators Update are a set of Map Styling APIs. The APIs do exactly what they say on the tin, letting developers "customize the look and feel of the map canvas on the fly." Developers working with the APIs can set specific styling characteristics of a layer to place the emphasis on certain parts of the canvas. Microsoft shows off just some of what can be accomplished with these controls, pointing to a Spooky Map it released in 2015 to celebrate Halloween.

Spooky Map

Those are some of the highlights that developers will be able to leverage for maps in their apps, and Microsoft is hoping this will bring a more consistent look between web and UWP apps. For a full look at what's coming, including some more technical rundowns, check out Microsoft's full blog post.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • The changes to the maps is a sore spot for a lot of Windows 10 Mobile users right now lol. Edit: I know this is about things devs can take advantage of, but to achieve this I think led to the maps that a lot of people are complaining about.
  • Please explain what changes you talk about that affects me as a Win10m user? I am not aware of. Thanks!
  • A lot of people have been complaining that the new map data MS are using is very poor in a lot of regions. I've not experienced it personally but on Reddit a number of people have posted screenshots comparing the level of detail in the new maps v.s the old ones.
    As long as routing still works fine, it doesn't really bother me much (and there are some positive changes too like more accurate terrain when navigating)
    If you are in the US it will probably affect you less, if it affects you at all.
  • Agreed. The new maps app doesn't use the newest map data supplied by Here. I know this because some of the roads I helped plot on Here Mapcreator (and that have been verified and pushed out) aren't showing up in the new app, but are showing up in the anniversary maps app.
  • Can we submit roads for bing maps in the same way we can with HERE? Wonder if the licensing costs have encouraged them to switch
  • At the very least, in the Maps app you can suggest changes. It's nowhere near as detailed as the Here platform allowed though.
  • Windows Mobile Maps worked flawlessly for us all across the UK, France and Ontario & US.
  • I was actually going to post this.  Using my Lumia 950 for directions is borderline worthless.
  • Just compared the area around my home now, and in the newer maps there's a lot less details about things like buildings - Ones that show in the old maps aren't there at all in the new ones. It isn't as bad as some people in certain regions where entire roads are missing lol. I hope they will improve the data soon, it feels like this is a case of the US data being fine, so that's the mapping data source everybody gets, regardless of what is best
  • The same is true for me with my Lumia 950. Does anyone else have the same problem I'm having? My GPS stops working after about 10 seconds while getting turn by turn directions from Bing Maps. It is so frustrating! It only does this for the voice directions. If I back out of the directions, the map tracks me perfectly all the time. If I use a different app for turn by turn directions, the GPS also works fine. It is just the turn by turn directions for Bing Maps that doesn't work. Anyone else experience this? It's been like this for months.
  • Still need more country coverages and street side.
  • How about just making sure the navigation works correctly MS? It screwed me over pretty good twice recently. Sick of this BS!!!!
  • That sucks. I drive a lot for work and it has been awesome for me. Hope it gets better for you.
  • Navigation is fine for me on Anniversary Update, I'm hoping (and asssuming) that doesn't change in the Creators Update along with the new maps which have less detail
  • Ohh, good point..... I just installed CU after my drive this week. Have not used it yet. Hmmm...Though, before maps got good I did buy Sygic and that seemed fine for the little I used it. So, at least I have a backup if needed.
  • I'm pretty sure the routing itself will still be okay, unless whole roads are missing but I doubt that would be the case in regions like US, UK etc. I think in those regions it's likely the road data is at least 100% complete, even if it has less data about things like the buildings alongside them
  • Not true. Construction of new roads happens in the US just like anywhere else. The new version of the app is using older map information than that used in the anniversary update.
  • I vacationed in the US last December & drove on the left side of the road for the first; navigation was spot on for me.  
  • The left side....? In the US?
  • I only drive on the left side when coming home.
  • That Maps image is reminding me of Assassin's Creed 2, haha
  • Cannot be unseen lol.
  • Strange complaints. I generally download maps to places that I travel. I have used it regularly in the US, recently in NYC, Miami and throughout Scotland with no problems at all
  • I use it regularly in Ireland and Spain and honestly haven`t had any issues, but then I don't usually whine over the slightest flaws. This is an emerging technology which will need constant updating in line with constant progress such as building and modifying infrastructure including roads. Try using google or apple maps and see how you get on with that. Thanks Microsoft keep up the good work!
  • The AU maps are a lot newer than the one's in CU. For some its worse than others. People in some regions are missing a lot of roads. It's not bad at all in the UK for example, but go further east and some regions are literally missing half the roads that HERE maps. Sure its not a problem for me or you but for some it will be.
  • So they'regiving developers a way to insert digital bilboards...sounds like time well spent
  • I tested Maps navigation compared with an iPhone. Microsoft is so much better, the voice commands are much more "on the spot". This was before this update, but already on CU. It was my impression that Win10M wins hands down compared to Apples navigation, it is just smoother.
  • I agree its better than iOS in a number of ways. Only used it up to AU for navigation not on CU which I'm sure will be fine for me in the UK
  • I wish that were true for me. Voice directions in Bing Maps doesn't work. Some kind of software glitch. Third party apps work fine for me. I would rather use Bing Maps though because it is integrated into the OS. Does anyone know a way to change default map app? Since Bing Maps doesn't work, I would love to change it to one of my other apps that does work.
  • Thanks for showing Florence on the article
  • I want to see a better interface for planning trips when using a pen. Current implementation is lacking. E.g. Love to be able to just tap the screen to drop waypoints which the app would then auto route directions between the points. Currently you basically have to use the pen exactly as you would use a mouse and use the context menu button. Also I'd like there to be a method to pin notes in the map. I really just want a whole trip planning interface with full pen support.
  • Can i use Ink in Sattelite view as previously advertised at Build 2016 but yet to be delivered?
  • Navigation has been ok for me, but traffic info is now always missing for routes that my PC on production does show traffic for.
  • For me who living in Algeria, before they change the source data, I was able to navigate early with all the routes were disponible. Now nothing in my region near the Capital. Impossible to use the GPS. Hope they will change this sooner☹
  • Based on all the comments, it's sounding like microsoft is repeating apple's mapsgate...oh well, good thing less and less people are relying on their mobile services as they build it.
  • Even online maps of iran is removed 
  • Israeeli map will be first in their priorities
  • First update all countries offline maps like gmaps asap.
  • Maps are just for selective countries completely garbage
  • I think its wrong to remove other countries, what is the gain there? Do it like google, there don't involve themselves in politics, these maps benefits the majority who have nothing to do with politics