The Bing Search team just blogged about the upcoming changes to the Bing Maps platform this spring. Most notably, Foursquare, the hot location-based service, will be integrated into Bing Maps by way of a map application that shows check-ins. If you’re unfamiliar, Foursquare is a location service available as a mobile app on numerous handsets that lets you check-in when you arrive at a destination like a bar, hotel, restaurant, event, etc. and then see who else among your friends is there, too. You can also receive tips from former Foursquare users about the location (like what to order at the restaurant, for example) and sometimes, there are mobile coupons available from the business itself. The part that makes Foursquare fun is the “game” element to it – the more you check-in, the more badges you can earn. And if you’re the person who checks in the most to a particular destination, you get to be the “mayor” of that place on the social network.
In Bing, real-time data from Foursquare will appear in the new Silverlight-based maps so users can get an idea of what hotspots are nearby the location they’re researching. It’s great for when you’re planning vacations to a new city and don’t know what places are popular.
Also new this spring will be a revamped interface for Bing Maps. According to Jeff Henshaw, GPM of the user experience team, you’ll soon see a “lighter, cleaner presentation of results that highlight key actions that will efficiently guide you toward your goal.” This will include changes like moving Quick Tabs to the top of the page for 1-click access to Map pages like Weather, Events, News, and Reference – all of which are also helpful when planning a trip to a particular destination.