Beating Google Maps at its own game.
With the hardware side of 3GSM largely disappointing (all the best models actually debuted beforehand) the more encouraging piece of news I’ve discovered during the show actually is in software.
‘Windows Live Search Mobile’ has gone out of beta and finally been officially released. Now for those not in the know this doesn’t sound like a big deal but, in short, what we have here is a free mobile application that out-Googles Google Maps.
Like the search guru’s much revered web app, Windows Live Search Mobile can search for destinations based on city and street names, postcodes, even the names of businesses or business types. It offers detailed results with full addresses and telephone numbers (where applicable) that can be automatically saved to contacts as well used for on-the-fly directions which can be displayed in road, aerial and hybrid maps that zoom and scroll. Basically, it has the works.
Now the crucial difference between what Microsoft has produced with Live Search Mobile and Google’s ‘Maps for Mobile’ is that the former has produced a dedicated version for Windows Mobile operating systems not only a generic J2ME (Java) client. Google simply did the latter and if you’ve ever run Java apps you’ll know just how slow and unreliable they can be.
Now – as you’ve probably guessed – I’ve had some time to play around with Windows Live Search for Windows Mobile and as a general hater of most things Microsoft it is with some pain that I’m forced to admit it is absolutely fantastic.
Currently only US and UK versions of Live Search Mobile are available but even if you don’t live in one of these countries it is worth downloading the app just to see the interface in action (more countries on their way). You’ll soon discover you don’t need to print out another map ever again…