New York -- AOL's MapQuest has finally announced the launch of “360 degree views,” to its maps today, a feature that saw the day of light almost two-and-a-half years after Google first added similar images to Google Maps Street view. Currently, it is available for 30 cities and 13 suburbs in the United States, with more to come soon.
Of course, it takes a long time to photograph major intersections across the country and add the data to and online mapping service, but in the meantime, Google has been able to take advantage of that head start, along with other unique features, to surpass MapQuest's once large lead in the mapping market, which is likely to become even more significant as smartphone adoption increases, according to HitWise.
“We have examined our industry, gleaning tidbits here and there, and polled our customer base in creating a simple, easy-to-use interface that fits smoothly into the MapQuest mapping experience you have come to know and understand,” says MapQuest.
You can easily differentiate when an area has 360 View coverage when you are zoomed out. It looks something like this:
When querying for specific places, the results are displayed in a format corresponding to Google's. There is a button for it alongside the other buttons like “Gas Prices,” “Traffic,” etc., in addition to a link to 360 View (when available) in the box that appears for a specific location:
Once a user switches to 360 View mode, they are shown another side-by-side view of the street-level imagery, and the map imagery. On the 360 View side, users can click on the orange thumbtacks to advance their direction, and click and drag the image itself to pan horizontally or vertically. Users can also use the green arrow on the map side to move their view on the other side.
It is interesting that in the US, MapQuest still gets a substantial amount of traffic. According to data from Compete, it had over 38 million unique visitors last month. MapQuest's latest release comes as Microsoft too has doubled down on its mapping business. Earlier this month, Microsoft said it would add street view images to Bing Maps for the first time.
Nevertheless, both Bing Maps and MapQuest are resourceful enough to match Google's coverage. Microsoft said it had partial street-level images for 100 U.S. cities, while MapQuest has coverage of some major U.S. metro areas. Google already has coverage of much of the U.S., including rural areas, along with at least fifteen additional countries.