Windows Live Search for Mobile Beta...
Dec 19, 2006
Windows Live Search for Mobile (can I just call this WLSM now?) is basically a mobile version of Live Maps, but it's very different from the Virtual Earth Mobile app that's been around for a while. Virtual Earth Mobile is more like the mobile version of Google Maps, and they both feel primitive compared to WLSM.
There are two things that I like the most about WLSM - the speed, and the UI. The mobile version of Google Maps runs in a Java VM and is consequently slow and clunky. The Windows Mobile version of WLSM is a native app, and you can really feel the significant difference in speed. There's also a J2ME version of WLSM for non-WM devices, but I'm not sure how that compares.
The WLSM UI is beautiful. This is the part that makes it one of my favorite mobile applications to use. It's designed to be very similar to the UI of most modern MP3 players, with sliding menus that allow you to drill in from the more general to the specific when performing local searches for restaurants, banks, etc. The UI for driving directions is also great, and allows you to choose between a minimalistic turn-by-turn, text-only view, and a route view plotted on a full-color map.
If you have a Windows Mobile device with a cellular data plan, I highly recommend installing the WM version of WLSM. I think it's so well implemented that it should be integrated into the next version of the Windows Mobile OS as a standard component. If you have don't have a WM device and decide to try the J2ME version, let me know what you think by leaving your comments here. I'm curious to know how it fares as well.