Once a cartographer has nailed the issue of accuracy, there a few useful options that can help distinguish one set of maps from another. It basically boils down to design and detail.
So it is with the latest generation of online map makers, Google and Microsoft, as they go head-to-head in attempting to attract users to their services.
Over at Microsoft, it has added an eye-popping 215TB of new data to spruce up the images that accompany its Bing Maps service, adding bird's eye views of more than 230,000 square kilometres of areas across the US, Europe, Australia and Japan.
The aerial images are shot at a 45 degree angle, intended to give a sense of perspective not possible with plain old top-down shots, and cover a range of locations such as Niagara Falls (pictured), DisneyLand Tokyo and Isola di Dino in Italy.
Not to be outdone, Google has set about adding more details to its Google Maps service.
It's updated its maps of Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy and other European locations, including Vatican City.
“We’ve also added better and more clearly labelled ferry routes in many places, such as the area below surrounding Naples, Italy,” wrote Michael Weiss-Malik, engineering manager, Google Maps in a company blog.
Google has also extended its 'report a problem' tool to cover the newly-detailed maps, enabling users to provide corrections for any errors they spot.
The new features for Bing and Google Maps are just the latest in a string of enhancements rolled out by the two tech giants, both desperately trying to corner the map market.
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