I spoke the the Live Product Manager the other day and he said this was coming, but I didn’t realise how quickly! Just goes to show how easy it is to develop on Virtual Earth!
This switch is only for the UK, Multimap has the biggest share of Map visitors in the UK so I guess brand familiarisation was a factor. However, brand consistency is lost and perhaps has become more convoluted.
Thinking about it though, what does it matter? The Live brand doesn’t really have much brand recognition anyway so perhaps leveraging the multimap brand makes sense in the UK.
The user interface is a hybrid model where in standard map mode you get original multimap tiles and UI and in Aerial mode you get Virtual Earth. Gone are the "Hybrid" and "Road" option which was talked about before – who knows what "Hybrid" means anyway!!??
Of course Bird’s Eye is VE only and it’s nice to see they’ve integrated that in there too. There’s no access to 3D view though which is poor and I have to say the multimap maps aren’t as clear to look at. They’ve also disabled any mouse wheel zooming which I can’t stand – come on guys – sort it out!
Their UI widgets like zoom in and move map are cleaner than the standard VE one though and they’ve also incorporated Wikipedia information on the map which is quite cute. One of the great things about Multimap is their local information and I can toggle on/off cash points (ATMs) and things like petrol stations which is quite useful for planning road trips. In and around London you get tube stations too.