There is huge competition in the navigation sector, from dedicated satellite navigation devices, to a multitude of smartphone apps and sites — it’s no wonder that Windows Maps isn’t the name on everyone’s lips. This is especially true since it was left in the lurch by Nokia selling off its Here support. Now though, with a big update, Microsoft is hoping to make Maps a bit more relevant.
The crux of the update is that Microsoft wants to “go far beyond directions,” when it comes to its mapping software. It wants to help you “discover the world around you,” according to product marketing manager for Windows Maps, Kushal Kupoor.
That doesn’t mean it hasn’t improved navigation though. The interface and layout of Maps has now been tweaked so that you can more quickly see where you need to go at a glance, making it easier to use your smartphone’s smaller screen as a guidance tool.
It also lets those travelling on buses and trains know when to get off on their stop — letting you zone into that book or podcast more so than you could have otherwise, and without fear of missing your stop.
Other updates include the addition of multiple searches on single maps, letting you bring up several destinations to give you an idea of the distance between them — great for planning a night out with lots of stop-offs.
That’s where Microsoft’s new discovery-oriented software comes in though, as along with listing the places you’ve said you want to go to, Maps will now recommend nearby establishments for all sorts of activities. If you need somewhere to eat, or somewhere to have fun, they should all be searchable from within the single Maps pane.
All of this can be saved offline to make accessing it that bit easier even if you run out of signal, and you can even have Cortana do it automatically for you lest you forget.
For anyone who sees all this but can’t help lamenting the Here support that they are soon to lose when it officially ends on June 30, Microsoft has at least some conciliatory news. Users with Here favorites will be able to import them into Windows Maps, so at least it won’t all be new when the changeover comes.
Have you made use of Windows Maps in the past? If so, how did you find the experience?