Google maps’ aerial imagery vs. Bing Maps Bird’s Eye view

Google maps has offered aerial image for a few months now, first via its API and later via an experiment labs feature. Google has now enabled the aerial imagery for all its users of Google Maps.

Bing Maps' Bird's Eye view of Groningen. Note the black edges.

Micosoft’s Bing Maps has offered aerial imagery for a bit longer. At iWink, I implemented aerial imagery for our customer Marketing Groningen in September 2007, that was three years ago. Back then, Bing Maps was still called Local Live and the platform was called Virtual Earth.

How do Google and Bing Maps compare?

Google only offers aerial imagery for several selected cities in the United States. With Microsoft’s Bing, you can view aerial imagery for many American and European cities, including many smaller cities in the Netherlands. Controls are largely the same. You can view aerial imagery from four directions.

I like Google’s implementation. With Bing Maps, you can clearly see where the plane flew, when you pan around on the map every now and then you can see black edges. If you pan over them, new imagery from just a slightly different perspective gets loaded.This is probably an artifact from the routes the plane flew when creating the imagery. With the Google implementation, all imagery seems to be stitched nicely together. You cannot see where the plane flew at all. This is very nice.

Google Maps aerial view a bit zoomed out. Notice that all imagery is nicely stitched together.

This has also enabled Google to add many more zoom levels. Bing Maps only offers two zoom levels, “up close” and “really up close”. With Google Maps you can zoom way out, pan around smoothly and then zoom back in again. This is be really nice. You can try it here, click Aerial (or “Lucht” in Dutch).


Bing offers aerial imagery for many more cities, but Google has better stitched the imagery together and has given the user better controls. I hope Google will quickly add imagery for more (European) cities.

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