With Windows 10 heading towards a late July launch, it’s time to start examining each of the new features in this release. First up is Maps, a new universal app version of Microsoft’s Bing- and HERE- infused location and mapping solution.
Note: the content in this article is condensed from the Maps chapter in Windows 10 Field Guide, which is currently in development. I’ll announce the plans for the publication of this new e-book soon.
The Maps app helps you find places that interest you, providing personalized recommendations and step-by-step directions for getting there by car, public transportation, or walking. These places can be nearby your current location, or you can use Maps to virtually explore another place before you visit.
Default view. In its default view, Maps provides a collapsed menu pane on the left, a search box, and some navigational and view controls on the right. But most of the surface area of the app is taken up by the map view, and it will automatically find your location if possible and navigate there when the app starts.
Menu pane. As with other universal apps that ship with Windows, you can expand the menu by tapping on the Menu (“≡”) button at the top left. This menu contains a few options related to Search, Directions and Favorites, plus Settings.
Navigation and view controls. If you’re using a touch-based device, you can navigate around the map surface by panning, pinching and stretching. But you can also use the six navigation and view controls found on the far right of the app, which work fine with both mouse and touch. These controls are Rotate Maps so North is Up, Tilt, Show My Location, Map Views, Zoom In and Zoom Out.
Find places … or find out more about places. You can find a specific place using the search box in the upper-left of Maps. But it’s perhaps less obvious that you can you use the search results to find out more about a place and then mark places as favorites and share them with others.
Get a streetside view. Many larger cities offer streetside views for a more immersive look at a place. This lets you virtually explore a place before you visit.
Find nearby places. The Nearby button triggers a drop-down list with choices—Eat + Drink, See + Do, Shop, Hotels, Banks, and Parking—so you can find out more about a place. Just select from the Nearby list and then start exploring on the map. Places have addresses, phone numbers, reviews, and other useful reference information.
Get directions. Maps lets you get driving, transit, and walking directions and you can select from a list of things you may wish to avoid, including traffic (which is auto-selected), toll roads, and more. Then you can navigate to your destination.
Explore 3D city views. Maps offers a unique 3D Cities view that lets you explore many popular destination cities in three dimensions.
Download maps for offline use. Maps lets you download maps for areas all around the world, enabling the app to work while your PC or tablet is offline. This is useful if you wish to use the app for navigation purposes while out in the world without a data connection. You download maps from the Settings app, and not from Maps.