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Exact Location Plus Windows Mobile Live Search
You’ll notice I left out the first icon on the list until now. This is the feature that makes this program a permanent resident on my Today screen. Use a little GPS slight of hand, and this program is the best mobile application around.
The Categories feature is best used with an address or even better, GPS location. Entering a city will get you some good results, but a specific location brings up results in order of distance from your location. One of the most common things you need when you are out and mobile, is a place to eat. If you aren’t familiar with the area, or you are just tired of your same old places, pull up the Restaraunts. Just a list of restaurants is OK, but if you could pick the kind of restaurant, that would be better. Live Search does it. Want Italian food? No problem, Windows Live Search Mobile lists the 25 closest Italian restaurants. From there you can map it, get directions, or even highlight the phone number to make a call without having to dial.
Now we’re talking.
But, to really make this thing sing, it’s time to bring out the GPS. This is a bit of a kludge, so hopefully Microsoft is taking notes from other programs, but it works good enough. Select Maps and then under menu, choose Center on GPS. When the map gets set, click Search. Here is the kludge. You have to name your location in order to use it for the search. This could be a pain, but just choose the default name “Map Location” and go in and get your list of restaurants, bookstores, model train stores, shoe stores, coffee shops, whatever.
If you are thinking about using Google for this, think again. Google works great assuming that somewhere in the title of the business you want to find is the word you are searching for. If you are searching for “Italian Restaurants” you’ll find “Joe’s Fine Italian Restaurant,” but maybe not “Luigi’s Pasta,” and almost certainly not “Amore.” You’ll only find those if they have a webpage that gets properly indexed by Google. The lists on Live Search come from somewhere else, and believe me they find a lot more of what you are looking for, as long as it fits in one of those pre-defined categories. (If not, then Google is the better bet.)
Just how nice is this feature? Really, really, nice.
The family and I went to Hawaii recently, specifically to the Big Island. I don’t know anything about it. On about day three, you get tired of eating at the hotel. Sure, I’ve got guide books, but they want me to eat authentic, native made, hand-tied, $90 a plate food. I want something quick because I’ve got an hour drive to the waterfall they recommend.
Have no fear, Live Search is here. Using the GPS trick, I get the map and then I get the location of the nearest restaurants. From there, I get directions, and ten minutes later, the family is eating at a nice place a little ways from the hotel on the way to the highway. Oh yes!
Fixing the gas prices thing would be huge. It worked for a while this summer. When you clicked on gas prices it produced a list of gas prices in your map area from lowest to highest with the distance to each. I’m sure you can imagine how great it is to know that you won’t find gas for three cents cheaper a little bit further up the road when it costs $3.25 a gallon! I don’t know what happened, but I’m guessing someone wants money for their service and Microsoft isn’t interested in paying right now. Hopefully they will fix that soon.
The second major improvement that needs to be made is with the map and GPS. On my Google Maps, the GPS follows me. So, if I’m driving down the highway, I can follow along and tell when my turn is coming up. This is great. With the Windows Live Search map, the GPS centers the map once and then it goes back to sleep. The map doesn’t move and neither does the indicator showing your location. That isn’t so great. I end up using Live Search to find where I want to go, and then using the Google map to get there.
So, right now, this is a race. If Google gets a better searching method to go with its better map, then I’ll switch to Google and delete Live Search. If Live Search gets its map to work like Google’s, then I’ll delete Google and use Live Search.
Gentlemen, start your engines.
Windows Mobile Live Search With GPS – Best Mobile Device Search and Information Application
Windows Mobile Live Search can be the most useful application on your cell phone or mobile device. But, if you don't use it quite right, it can be a big waste of space.