Just now when writing up the previous post on Bing Streetside coming to UK maps, we noticed something quite interesting: our Bing Maps Streetside has morphed into what Microsoft Research has called “Street Slide”:

seattle-streetslide_thumb Bing

(You can click on the image for a larger view)

While at first glance this seems very much like a test in progress (in fact some parts of Seattle don’t have Street Slide views at all – the image is just all black), a number of new features are showing up in the new experience.  We’ll list a few observations here, in no particular order:

  1. There isn’t a choice between the old “Streetside” and this new “Street Slide” view
  2. Navigation aids are scarce.  There is a “u-turn” icon at the top left of the image, which turns you around to the other side of the street, but that’s about it.  Jumping to another non-adjacent area requires backing out of “Street Slide”, navigating on the street map, and then jumping back in.  Ie: there’s no “running man” to “fast forward”, as there is in Streetside.
  3. Quite common in the views are chopped up pieces of cars, due to the image overlays.  They’re quite disconcerting.
  4. Bus routes are provided, a nice touch.  In our current implementation, they’re not linked (say to a schedule).
  5. You can move from street to street by clicking on the blue linked street names, but still not as easy to navigate as Street Side
  6. The merchants names (you get a longer list when applicable, via “view more” – currently although there are scrollbars they don’t appear to work) link you to an instant answers type page for the merchant, taking you out of the map completely, again a bit jarring.
  7. You can’t navigate by moving the black circle/blue dot in the map portion at the top of the image, it only shows you where the view is situated.  Instead you have to go through the back button, choose a new location, re-enter Street Slide process.
  8. We turned off Silverlight just to make sure, and Street Slide isn’t using the plugin (while we at one time had the HTML5 version of Bing, we don’t now)

Street Slide, while it seems to leave a lot to be desired on a desktop, may prove to be a much better experience on a phone or mobile device, where screen real estate is at a premium.

Are you seeing Street Slide imagery?  What do you think?