In a month full of online map announcements, Microsoft is jumping into the game by adding 165TB of new imagery to Bing Maps.
The data dump is the "largest satellite release to date" for Bing, Microsoft said in a blog post. "In fact, this release is larger than all of our past Aerial releases combined!"
Bing's new release features imagery over North America, South America, Africa, Australia, Europe and Asia - almost 38 million square kilometres.
Today's update includes aerial images taken by satellites or aircraft, as well as Global Ortho photography.
This month, Bing Imagery Technologies finished capturing 100 per cent of aerial photography over the US, and is expected to complete photography over Europe this fall. All updated imagery should be published by the end of the year, Microsoft said.
When Microsoft-owned Bing launched its Global Ortho Project one year ago, the search engine team acknowledged the challenge for consumers and organisations using Web-mapping services: "Much of the imagery featured there has historically been patchwork of satellite and aerial imagery of different vintage, quality, clarity and detail," Microsoft said in June 2011.
Users' experience was inconsistent at best, the team wrote.
With today's unveiling, a refresh cycle will update previously collected images, focusing on those areas that are more likely subject to change, Bing said.
"People using Bing Maps and applications built on the Bing Maps platform ... can trust Bing Maps to provide the same experience regardless of where they search," the blog said.
"Equally important," Microsoft said, is that "wherever you are exploring in Bing Maps, you are likely to find current imagery."
Visit Bing Maps World Tour app to view full coverage.
Early this month, Google unveiled its "next generation of Google Maps," with 3D imagery, followed shortly by Apple's announcement that it will ditch Google Maps for its own home-built map system incorporated into iOS 6.
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