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