live search

In a move that may console some of your concerns about the future of Windows Mobile 6.x, Microsoft has updated its Bing application. While the version numbers don’t seem like a big jump (5.1.2010.3290 to 5.1.2010.5040 is what we’re seeing on our phones), there is some new functionality that a lot of people have been pining for.

Bing (and its predecessor, Live Search) have offered minimal navigation options in previous iterations, but as of today Bing offers voice guided turn-by-turn directions. (Huzzah!) Settings include the choice between the fastest or shortest route, avoiding toll booths, avoiding traffic, and voice guidance. Get the latest and greatest version from http://m.bing.com/download/. More information is available at Microsoft's Bing Community Blog.

More screen shots after the break. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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It's been a little while since we've heard anything out of the Bing camp. Since Microsoft's search engine dropped the Live Search name, we've only seen a rebranding of the mobile app, and a possible hint of more substantial change.

Now we have something more official, and word that an update to the Bing app is due this fall:

Congratulations to our friends over in Windows Mobile for the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5 today! It’s an exciting time for mobile and for Bing. With today’s announcement we are kicking off what we like to call the Autumn of Mobile!

This week in New York we were able to share a sneak peek of the Bing for mobile application due out later this Fall. In case you missed it, here’s a screenshot of what’s to come. The Bing app continues to be a great tool for local searches, maps, and directions, and now it has a whole new look.

Judging by the screen shot, the new app looks to be, bingeriffic. (Ducks!)

Bing blog via LiveSide.net

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Review: GlobalSat BT-368i Bluetooth GPS

We’re quite spoiled you and I. Can you imagine if twenty years ago someone had shown you the very device you currently carry and use on a daily basis? Being able to instantly communicate using all manner of methods provided by the most mundane of Windows Mobile Phones is simply an amazing example of technology. As generations of Windows Mobile devices pass by there are new and improved hardware toys that become fairly standard in each generation. GPS receivers are an example of a feature that many of us take for granted that is one of the more amazing pieces of consumer technology.

All of this being true, GPS receivers are not included in all of the Windows Mobile devices that we carry around. Even if it is included, getting a radio signal to and from those satellites drains a battery like few other things can. For those of you facing these dilemmas, I present the GlobalSat BT-368i Bluetooth GPS receiver.

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Live Search Mobile rebranded to Bing

It goes without saying that Live Search Mobile would take on the Bing moniker at some point, and that point is now. Fire up Live Search and hit the Menu softkey, and you'll see the "Client update available" is lit up.

For the most part this appears to be a simple rebranding, though the map interface has been tweaked slightly. We're still expecting a more thorough refresh this fall. More pics after the break. And if you're reading this on your phone, click here to manually get the upgrade.

Thanks to cplush on Twitter for the tip!

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By many accounts, Microsoft's launch of its Bing "decision engine" has been largely successful. For our purposes, we're still waiting on a mobile client to replace Microsoft Live Search. And here is a look at what we might get.

IStartedSomething [via] brings us pics from an April presentation showing the mobile client. You'll note the "Kumo" branding, which, as you'll recall, was the codename for Bing.

ISS's Long Zheng notes that the mobile client will expand beyond the United States and support search in the UK, Italy and France. And it's growing from Windows Mobile and also will be supported on BlackBerry, Sidekicks and Verizon BREW phones.

Look for the Bing mobile client in August or September. More pics after the break.

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Sure enough, it was revealed this morning at D7 that Microsoft's new search engine — excuse us, they're calling it a Decision Engine — previously known by its Kumo code name, is officially to be called "Bing," just like we'd heard. It also gives us another reason to run this killer picture. But Bing's not being touted as just another search engine. It's got goals.

Bing is specifically designed to build on the benefits of today’s search engines but begins to move beyond this experience with a new approach to user experience and intuitive tools to help customers make better decisions, focusing initially on four key vertical areas: making a purchase decision, planning a trip, researching a health condition or finding a local business.

The question remains: Will we see the Bing brand cross over to Windows Mobile? And is there any more to Sift and Swivel? News at 11. Full presser after the break.

Via All Things D

Update: Looks like there will be a mobile client. [via] But is it merely a Live Search rebrand? Or something new?

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It's like these two are in a race as both companies have released updates for their popular free mapping software.

Out of the two, Live Search (a clear fave here at WME) offers the most noticeable update, which greatly speeds up the loading time of the app. That was probably our biggest gripe and often made us leave the app "open" in the background to avoid the slow reload.

The new Live Search v3.5.8198.0 cuts in half the load time and you'll surely notice the zippy load bar. Other than that, nothing new to notice.

Google Maps on the other hand, has bumped it's version number to v2.2.0.20, which is a whopping 0.0.0.01 upgrade, so probably nothing major there. Indeed, there is still no "Transit" directions available here in NYC.

Oh Google, you tease so much.

Live Search can be updated via the client (natch) or go here: wls.live.com and you can grab Google Maps here.

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We're trying to get excited over this one. We really are. But another rumored brand name for Windows Mobile/Search/Whatever just doesn't do for us what it used to. But we're going to suck it up and and remember that it's all about confusing informing you, the reader, that two more names have surfaced.

Joseph Tartakoff over at PaidContent now brings us Sift.

The name appears to be intended for use with mobile phones, judging by the trademark description. It reads, “operating system software for mobile phones; computer search engine software; computer programs for searching email, text messages, address and contact information.”

But wait. There's more. Enter: Swivel.

However, the company is expected to unveil new online services by the time it launches Windows Mobile 7 next year, and Sift could be one of them. Microsoft trademarked another brand, Swivel, in March, which it said in the application it wants to use for “operating system software for mobile phones (cell phones).”

So let's do a roll call here and see if we've got it all down. There's Kumo, which is a rumored successor to Live Search. Then there's Kiev (or Kyiv, or ???? - please, let's not go down that road again) and Bing, which also are contenders. Throw in Sift and Swivel, and, well, we've just got more names. There you go. Hope everybody's happy.

(Oh, and about that shirt ...)

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This is one of those things that we're instantly going to regret posting (rather, we can think of a couple of people who will make us regret it), but it's just too funny not to. Microsoft has a new site pimping the local search capabilities of Live Search for Mobile, featuring Larry & Gary's Mobile App Shack (there's one app store name we didn't think of).

Check out the hilarious spoofs of used-car commercials at Loco4Local.com. Just make sure you're not eating or drinking, lest something come shooting out your nose.

Via Smartphone Thoughts

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As the days go by and the seasons change, we hold out hope that one day Microsoft's branding schemes will begin to make a little more sense.

Today is not that day.

ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley spotted a Wall Street Journal post in which some new names have solidified as candidates for a Live Search refresh. First there's Kiev (which we're now told is spelled Kyiv - thanks, Peter, though we actually prefer the straight Cyrillic ????), the largest city in the Ukraine and after which a tasty chicken dish is named. It also "seems to be the uber-brand for Microsoft’s upcoming search release," Foley writes.

OK. Then there's Kumo, which is still floating around but losing ground as the new name for Live Search, Foley says. Instead, it could be overtaken by Bing, which either reminds of the legendary crooner or a sitcom character, depending on your generation and/or culture level.

Is a Live Search rebrand enough to jump-start things for Microsoft in that end of the house? We're inclined to agree with Cnet's Ina Fried, who points out that MS could throw all kinds of marketing money at its search product and at least get it noticed. But getting people to switch to it is a whole 'nother matter.

What's this mean for Windows Mobile? At the moment, nada, as nothing's official yet. But can you imagine whipping out your phone in public and saying "Let me Bing that for you."?

Yeah, us, either.

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Mike Nichols, the general manager of Live Search, put up a blog post today regarding the testing of Kumo, Microsoft's update to Live Search. There he discusses the testing and possible rebranding of Live Search.

Many of you have probably seen the press coverage in the last day or so about the internal testing Microsoft employees are doing on our search product. There’s a good deal of excitement brewing over this test, both internally and externally, which we’re always glad to see.

And we're more than happy to help out with said press coverage, Mike. But, seriously, what about this whole rebranding thing. Is this the end of Live Search as a brand?

There has also been a fair amount of speculation around the use of the Kumo brand and URL, and whether this means that we are rebranding Live Search. We’re using the Kumo brand and URL for this test experience to make sure employees understand they’re in a test experience. We believe this will encourage more active feedback. As for rebranding, it’s something we’re still considering.

So you're saying there's still a chance. May we suggest, KUMOBILE!

Update: Microsoft Watch is down on the whole Kumo thing. Well, the name, anyway.

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Wonder no more. That Live Search rebranding we mentioned this morning is going ahead, says CNET's Ina Fried, and internal testing is getting under way on Kumo.com.  Don't bother trying it yet, however, unless you're on Microsoft's corporate network. As an e-mail from MSFT's search executive Satya Nadella explains, so far Kumo is directly attacking search and search results. From said e-mail:

We believe we can provide a better and more useful search experience that helps you not just search but accomplish tasks. During the test, features will vary by country, but you'll see results organized in a way that saves you more time. An explorer pane on the left side of results pages will give you access to tools that help you with your tasks. Other features like single session history and hover preview help accomplish more in search sessions.

No word yet on what it will mean for Live Search on Windows Mobile. Will it become Kumo Mobile? Kumobile? Kumobile! (Try yelling it. It works that way.)

Anyway, check out Fried's post if you want to see the full e-mail and a full screen shot of the search results, which we've cribbed above.

Update: Er, now that we're done sounding our barbaric yawp, we'll remind you that Kumo means either "Cloud," or "Spider." We're guessing they're going for "Cloud."

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Live Search rebranding rumors persist

We're big fans of Microsoft's Live Search for Mobile around these here parts. We're not big fans of the "Live" branding. And it now appears that Microsoft may be getting ready to do something about that.

LiveSide.net [via the Seattle PI] notes that Barney Pell, a "search strategist and evangelist at Microsoft," apparently recently Tweeted (and since deleted) that Live Search will be rebranded, which we've been expecting for some time now. No official name has surfaced, though there still is "Kumo" floating around. Also no word yet how long it would take this to trickle down to the mobile side of things.

More news may surface this week at Microsoft's MVP Summit.

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We'd heard back in August that “Windows Live” would be getting a rebrand. We've suggested many-a-time here that “Live” is confusing between search, desktop products, mobile products, cloud services, consumer services, Office, and more. Yes, all those things need to be tied together, but there's striations between the products where Live does and doesn't apply, to the point where “Live” is to “defining term” what “Clippy” is to “Help tool.” Which is to say -- not a bad way to brand stuff on paper, but in practice hopelessly annoying.

We're about to plunge into yet another tearful tirade about how Microsoft's cloud services are actually really awesome, better than MobileMe and BlackBerry Internet Service even, but nobody knows about it because they have to hunt down Windows Live for Windows Mobile, Live Search for Windows Mobile, Live Mesh for Windows Mobile, and then patch them all together. We're about to do that, but it looks like Microsoft may have settled on one of the names conjectured in that August post: Kumo, which can mean either “cloud” or “spider” in Japanese depending on which Kanji characters you use. Seems like the perfect term to apply to a set of cloud services with a side of search.

LiveSide reports that Microsoft took control of Kumo.com. TechCrunch believes that Kumo will apply to search and Live will be cloud services and social networking. CNet joins both in emphasizing that no decision appears to be fully set in stone yet.

Us, we're going to go stare in a mirror and repeat “Live Services” three times and see what comes out.

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Ever have that rich cousin who always seemed to get the coolest toys before you? We're kind of feeling the same way right now. Our blogging brethren over at Crackberry.com were the first to get their hands on the BlackBerry Bold (and we're really hoping they're not the ones who ponied up the $17,000 on eBay for that Javelin).

Now they get to enjoy Street View and walking directions on their phones. (For that matter, so do Symbian users. Don't even get us started on that one.)

Yeah, yeah, it'll probably be available on Windows Mobile soon enough. And it's surprising that iPhone users haven't yet called for a Congressional hearing. The app version that appears in the video is 3.1.0; my just-updated WinMo version is 2.2.0.19.

So enjoy your fancy Street Views, CrackBerry users. Enjoy your walking directions. If you need us, we'll be wandering around aimlessly using Windows Live Search.

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Live Search to get a Rebrand?

Seems like every time we mention Microsoft's Live Services here we always start with the complaint that the branding is confusing, mixed, and/or just plain wacky. There's been a plan in the works since at least February to rebrand some of these services to clear up just what refers to what. According to Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, that plan is still in motion.

First up, Live Search, Microsoft's straight-up search competitor to Google. It looks like Microsoft has begun asking users what they think of several new names, the leading contenders being:

  • Bing
  • Hook
  • Kumo (which means either “cloud” or “spider” in Japanese, depdnding on which Kanji characters are used)

Again, these are being floated strictly (we think) to rebrand the actual Search in Live Search and not necessarily the Live Search client, Live Mesh (Mac client for that is out now, by the way), or any of the other various services called “Live” out there. Ok, honestly we don't know, but that's our best guess. What we do know is that the URLs for all of the above are already taken and, really, it wouldn't exactly be a tragedy if Microsoft went another direction. Then again, they're all better than “Cuil.”

Here's our suggestion: Wythwo. As in: “Wish (that) Yahoo Thing Had Worked Out.”

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New Live Search App in the Pipes

One bit that was lost in all the CTIA Hoopla, but did appear during our Keynote LiveBlog, is that we can expect an update to the Live Search application on Windows Mobile in the relatively near future -- hopefully well before Windows Mobile 6.1 updates are rolled out.

We got to see a firsthand demo of the new features. There's a weather info pane (finally!) as well as a “Web Search” panel (as though the difference between Live Search and Windows Live on Mobile wasn't muddy enough). There's also this new feature called “Collections” that a sort of mashup between your standard local searches and a mini-RSS reader. Mainly it is a place to save your most common searches. Sadly, a feature like Google Maps' “location” based on towers isn't going to be included.

We've always been sweet on Live Search what with the free, the ability to speak direction requests [edit: fixed], the GPS integration, the Movie times, the Gas prices, and the Traffic. The new version looks to be a nice upgrade.

In any case, it's en route and just another data point for folks trying to figure out just what Microsoft's mobile services strategy is going to be.

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Windows Live (Lite) Now Available for All

Ok, don't hate us here, we are just the messenger. Hot on the heels of telling you that a new version of Live Search for Windows Mobile is coming down the pipes, we're telling you that you can now download Windows Live for any Windows Mobile devices. Yes, these are different apps. Yes, we're tired of complaining about how silly it is to have to differentiate between “Live Search,” “Windows Live” and “Live Search that isn't an app but is instead just a web search.”

You can hop over to http://wl.windowsmobile.com direct from your device to get Windows Live. Then again, you may already have it installed, as Windows Live comes pre-installed on a few devices. On most, though, the carriers give it the big old Ax because it competes with services they want to charge you for. Good on Microsoft for finally making an end run around these clowns and giving us a direct download, right?

Sigh. Not so much. The direct download version of Windows Live has support for Live Hotmail , Contact sync, and Spaces, it does not include their Live Messenger client (which is heads and shoulders above the default Oz client that most US WinMo devices ship with). This direct download might give you a Live Window (we couldn't resist) outside of your walled garden, but it definitely doesn't completely free you from your carrier.

Still - if you're a Hotmail Windows Live Hotmail user, this is a must-download as it will make your email push and sync up your contacts just right. It will also let you throw a Live Search field onto your Today screen if you're still hunting around for one of those (us, we prefer the Google Today screen plugin, but don't tell big M.)

While you're at it, you may as well visit the mobile version of the Windows Mobile Owners Circle and pick up some other free software for your phone.

[via pocketnow]

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