Microsoft just announced that the Bing Maps app for Windows 8.1 will offer 3D imagery, just like Google Maps and Apple Maps. This previously unannounced feature, Microsoft’s corporate VP Gurdeep Singh Pall said while demonstrating some new capabilities of Bing for developers, will launch with Windows 8.1, though it’s not in the preview version yet.
Microsoft, he said, developed its own cameras to create these 3D images. As the company told me, all of this imagery for the 3D imagery is captured exclusively for this feature. Microsoft is not repurposing any of its previously captured aerial photographs for this.
It’s not clear what kind of coverage these 3D maps will provide, but the word on the street is that it will launch with about 100 cities at first. The company also plans to integrate the next version of PhotoSynth deeply into the new Maps app.
Developers will be able to use all of this imagery in their own apps, too.
The demo Microsoft showed today was actually quite impressive and at least on par — if not better — with what its competitors are currently doing. The fact that all of its competitors had already added 3D imagery to their maps did make Bing Maps look somewhat behind the times, but it looks like Microsoft is starting to catch up again.