The Windows Live folks have released a really cool application for mobile phones, one that makes it easier to check out maps and find driving directions and traffic conditions. The application is available by pointing your mobile browser at wls.live.com, and comes in two version: one for J2ME platforms, and one for Windows Mobile devices.
While you can get maps and directions by going to live.com on most mobile devices, this dedicated application allows for speed and a much richer experience. The maps come in both road and hybrid aerial view, giving the satellite photos that are so popular these days in web maps, and are draggable just by putting your stylus on the touch screen.
Gizmodo has a comparison between this app and Google Maps’ app, and it looks like in their view, the two just don’t compare. Google’s is J2ME only, and a pretty buggy and unstable version at that, with a painful user experience. Windows Live’s maps are smoother, scroll faster, and zoom better, while Google’s were sluggish.
They’ve also released an updated version of their web search for mobiles, at mobile.live.com/search. It allows searching the web, local search, maps, news, and Windows Live Spaces, even seeing the top result in each category on one screen. You can test drive the new features and the SMS search feature by going to mobile.search.live.com.
LiveSide reports that they’ve also released a browser-based version of Windows Live Messenger for mobile phones, available at mobile.live.com/wlm/imsi.aspx (and eventually on the live.com mobile portal). It’s simple and text based, so it should work in any mobile browser, and lets you do IM easier than almost every mobile AOL Instant Messenger I’ve tried. You can run it in your regular web browser, so give it a shot.