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Bing Maps on Your BlackBerry PlayBook

Bing Maps needs downloads from a huge collection maintained by Microsoft. It will only work when your BlackBerry PlayBook has a connection to the Internet, either through a WiFi link or by Bluetooth and through a BlackBerry smartphone.

When you open Bing Maps, you can tap the small blue compass icon in the upper-right corner of the screen; this brings up a report on your present latitude and longitude.

(Sometimes the app will take a few minutes before it can figure out where you are; again, this may be a bit of early-release roughness that will be smoothed out over time. And the 3G or 4G cellular versions of the PlayBook may have more advanced GPS hardware built in. Stay tuned.)

Bing Maps wasn’t developed specifically for the BlackBerry PlayBook and thus its icons, buttons, and controls don’t follow the same standards you’ll find in many other apps. However, it’s easy enough to use.

Explore your current location via Bing Maps

Tap the blue compass icon to allow the app to determine where you are. Your latitude and longitude appear along the left side of the screen, and a map or image is shown in the main portion of the screen.

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Adjust the view on Bing Maps

Swipe down from the top bezel and choose one of the following views:

  • Auto. This selects the best available view for the area; in most built-up areas, this will show a detailed road map.

  • Road. Displays the road map where available.

  • Aerial. This view overlays high-resolution satellite views along with highlights for major roads and landmarks. The overhead view of my home even shows our little red car parked out front.

  • Bird’s-eye. Another form of aerial view, this one uses images captured by low-flying aircraft and taken at a slight angle, which allows showing more detail of buildings and elevation.

  • Turn the image. Tap the compass heading above the image to rotate the view between northern, eastern, southern, or western orientations.

  • Expand the view. You can move in any direction on the map by touching the image and moving your finger. To zoom in, pinch out by touching with your pointing finger and thumb (or any other pair of digits you can manage) and moving them apart from each other.

Search for places nearby via Bing Maps

Tap the Nearby tag and then choose from the travel essentials: restaurants, hotels, shopping, and other commercial sites. The listings aren’t at all comprehensive. You may want to use the web browser for further research before making a commitment for the evening. In most cases, you can ask Bing Maps to figure out driving directions from your current location to a business or other place you choose.

Switch to a map view to pinpoint locations on Bing Maps

You don’t have to limit yourself to exploring the area surrounding your PlayBook’s current location. You can navigate to another part of the world by moving the map beneath your fingers, or enter a location in the search box at the upper-left corner of the app.

Here Bing Maps is showing the city of Civitavecchia, the ancient port of Rome in Italy. With the road map on the screen, Bing Maps was asked for listings of hotels and accommodations.

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Get driving directions from Bing Maps

When you tap Directions you can do two things:

  • Add the current location as a starting or ending point. Tap the arrows icon to switch between the two.

  • Enter addresses using the PlayBook’s virtual onscreen keyboard.

Mass transit directions are currently available in about a dozen major cities. Note that the quality of driving or walking instructions will vary; in first-world countries, the maps and directions will generally be first-rate. In other parts of the world, not so much.

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