How to use Maps in Windows Phone
Windows Phone 7 and the Nokia Lumia 800 come with Bing Maps pre-installed, offering navigation and local search right from your home screen.
Conceived originally as an answer to Google Maps, Microsoft’s Bing Maps is understandably a year or two behind in development. But it’s part of Windows Phone 7, follows the same user interface style, supports full multi-touch and is still a very useful application, as you’ll see here.
From exploring the world, virtually, to finding things and businesses, and then navigating to them, albeit with a little fingerwork needed as you drive or walk, Bing Maps is well worth getting to know.
Step 1: Adding Bing Maps to the homescreen
Although it’s unlikely that your Windows Phone manufacturer has put in a homescreen tile for Bing Maps, you can easily add one yourself by swiping left and long pressing ‘Maps’ in the apps list. From the pop-up menu, tap on ‘pin to start’. You can also pin individual locations, as you’ll see later.
Step 2: Finding your location on the Earth’s surface
With a good view of the sky, with a SIM card active in your phone and with ‘Settings>Location services’ (including GPS) turned ‘On’, your smartphone should find your current location and display it quite quickly. If a different map is shown (for example, where you were when you last used it) then tap on the ‘position’ icon, central on the toolbar – Bing Maps will re-centre the map and zoom right in.
Step 3: You are… within this circle
Your estimated position is marked with a yellow diamond, but you’ll almost certainly also see a bold circle around this, at least at first. This represents the uncertainty in the position fix, usually because a good GPS lock hasn’t been possible so far. In other words, you could be anywhere within the circle. Also, note that you may see either an aerial view or a vector road map here – it depends how far you’re zoomed in. Get up very close and Bing Maps automatically swaps in a satellite photo, for extra detail.
Step 4: Multi-touch
As on the iPhone, there’s full multi-touch here and it’s worth getting to grips with the interface. Pinch two fingers in on the capacitive screen to zoom out, splay them apart to zoom in, as you’d expect. And, of course, you can drag the map around as needed to pan to a different area. If you need to move a significant distance, it’s often quicker to zoom out, pan across and then zoom in again. At any point, tapping the ‘position’ icon again will re-centre the map on your location.
Step 5: Searching for places or things
To look for a place or business, tap on the ‘search’ icon in the Bing Maps toolbar (not the hardware Search button/icon, note!) Typical searches might be, for example, “Chequers Way”, to find a road, or just “Chequers”, to find either a road name or (in this case) a pub with that in its title. Or perhaps a business type, e.g. “tyres”, to find the nearest tyre and exhaust centre for an emergency repair. Experiment!
Step 6: Search matches around your location
In each case, possible matches around your current location are shown with black flags and numbers – tap on the one whose name you want to see.
Step 7: Picking a match
Tap a named match (if it’s not the one you really wanted, tap on ‘…’ and then on ‘results list’ and pick another) and you’ll see a full page of information, with the match’s postal address, phone number, website and – crucially – an option to find ‘directions from my location’. Now, Bing Maps currently has no real time navigation features, but it certainly can have a stab at finding a fastest route.
Step 8: Navigation… of sorts!
Tap on ‘directions’ and, after a few seconds calculation, Bing Maps will go ‘split-screen’, with a zoomed in map of each junction in the route and detailed instructions for each junction in a scrolling pane below. As you drag this pane up and down (i.e. as you move through your route), the map section pans to show each junction and what you should do. None of this is real time and, watching the usual yellow diamond representing your position, it will be up to you to scroll down the route as needed. But as a rough and ready navigation system it does offer some help. And yes, Microsoft have a much better, real time version planned for Windows Phone Mango.
Step 9: Copying directions
Some people will prefer to have these instructions in paper form, so it’s worth noting that long pressing on any part of the directions list pops up the option to ‘copy directions’ to the system clipboard – you can then (for example) paste these into an email or Office file, as needed, perhaps for printing off from a desktop.
Step 10: Saving a location to the homescreen
With any search match or location’s details up on-screen, notice the ‘pin’ icon in the bottom toolbar. Tap this to ‘pin’ this location (along with a small thumbnail map memory jogger) to your Windows Phone homescreen. At any later point, just tap this to get back to the details screen and then tap the thumbnail again to view it on the wider map of the area.
Written by Steve Litchfield
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