Microsoft has released some pretty substantial updates to the Windows Maps app this year, with the company trying to make its service the equal of rivals. The departure of HERE Maps from Windows 10 Mobile, Microsoft has had to fill the void and make its own maps package up to scratch.
A big update addressed many of the differences between Windows Maps and potent rivals such as Apple's Maps, Google Maps, and HERE. There are still plenty of features lacking, so every time we see a new Microsoft maps update drop, we hope it will bring more much-needed functionality.
Sadly, the latest upgrade seems to be nothing more than a patch, probably sent out to shore up security, squash some bugs, and maybe enhance performance. The upgrade pushes Windows Maps up to version 5.1607.1831. Indeed, this is such a small update that Microsoft has not even mentioned it on the Windows Store in terms of version notes.
As mentioned, that previous update was extensive and brought many sought-after features to the Windows Maps application. The changes launched to end users last month and included:
- Multiple searches shown in tabs that you can minimize to reduce clutter
- Improved voice-guided navigation with larger text that's easier to read at a glance
- Search added to 3D cities, so you don't have to scroll to find the city you want
- Favorites now has notes, and you can keep them with you, even when you sign out
- New layout on phones makes it easier to get to things like search, directions, and favorites
- Search results are now directly labeled on the map so you can see what's what
- New guided transit directions let you know when it's time to get off the bus
- Improvements to algorithms for searching what's nearby, with closer and better results
- On phones, import any favorites you saved in HERE apps
At the time, Microsoft said it was committed to delivering a leading maps service to customers. The company is playing catch up to its main rivals:
“Our [goal] on the Maps team is to deliver the best map and navigation experiences on Windows far beyond directions alone. Local search, robust offline capability, 3D cities and street imagery are just a few of the things already available in the Windows 10 Maps app we know you love using every day.”
If the company can keep rolling out features, the user experience will improve. There has already been a general upturn in review scores on the Windows Store. Admittedly, there are still plenty of features we would like to see before we really compare Windows Maps to its rivals, including Location interoperability with Apple Maps and Google Maps, Compass Orientation navigating, and more layering.