I’m not a fan of Google. I think they’re constantly violating people’s privacy and the only company I know that’s worse is Facebook. I’m not on Facebook. And in terms of Google, I am doing my very best to find alternatives for every one of their services, including switching to Bing Maps from Google Maps. Problem is, I can’t figure out how to get “directions from here” in Bing Maps. Can you show me?
You’re not alone in being concerned and skeptical about Google and its stance on privacy. As a global company in the business of data mining and subsequently associating advertisements with specific data, there’s a definite tension between their desire to “do no evil”, honoring our privacy, and their need to make money as a for-profit corporation. My experience with them is that I’ve never had an issue, but I can certainly see how people can get freaked out about things like adverts in Gmail that suddenly match the content of private email messages, etc.
Still, it’s definitely not my job to convince you that Google is okay, so let’s have a look at Bing Maps. In fact, there’s a lot to really like about Bing Maps, not the least of which is that Microsoft just announced a few days ago that they’ve added 165TB of new imagery data, covering cover 38 million square kilometers of the world.
Right. Let’s get to those driving directions. Like that other mapping service, Bing Maps has the ability to find where you are if you let it, so let’s start with a visit to the site using Google Chrome (yeah, I know, you can use a different browser. The experience will be identical though)…
Here’s what it looks like when you first go to the site:
What you want is the little “target” circle on the top left:
As it suggests, click on the circle to have Bing Maps figure out where you are. If you give it permission: modern Web browsers are designed to help you retain your privacy and ask if it’s okay for a particular site to get your geographic info. In Chrome, it shows this along the very top:
Other browsers will have different displays but they should all double-check that it’s okay, and when you do give permission (I’ll click “Allow”) the map will be recentered and zoomed to show me where I’m located:
In this instance, Bing is showing lat/long (and I’ve tweaked them a bit for privacy). Move the cursor over the lat/long display and it expands:
If you’re thinking you should click on “Directions”, well, you’re right! Click on that link and it’ll prompt you for the address you want to find, with your current address in “A”. I’ve entered an address in Dana Point, California here:
A click on “Go” and my map appears instantly:
One more cool thing. Click on “Mobile” and it’ll offer you the chance to send a shortcut URL to a cellphone, making it a breeze to have the directions as you drive:
Oh, and needless to say, don’t check your directions as you’re driving. Study it beforehand and pay attention to the driving itself. Be safe out there, whether you’re talking about online privacy or simply driving through the neighborhood…