Windows Live Search has released a new version of their first class Windows Mobile application, adding some killer new features.
The big one: Voice recognition. When you need to select a location on the map, instead of typing it in or browsing to it on the map, you can hit a Speak button and just tell it where to go. That means that when you need driving directions, when you want to find movie showtimes, or if you just need to browse the map, you can just say the name of the neighborhood you are in and get it, just like that.
I went to the Nightmare: Ghost Stories haunted house in Manhattan yesterday, and afterwards we needed to drop off a friend at the subway. I told my phone where I was, and it brought up the satellite map, complete with local subway locations. Then I clicked the Movies button, and we got showtimes for Saw IV in the area. When we decided to see the movie back in Queens, I just told the phone to look there, and it did.
Honestly, nothing compares to how good this is. If you’re using Google Maps on your phone and you can switch to this, you’d be crazy not to. The voice control is so easy, and accurate enough on a Manhattan street, that there’s no reason to use anything else.
The other new feature: Gas prices.
Hit the Gas Prices button on the home screen, and it’ll search for all the local gas prices, then list them according to the lowest prices. You can get more details, or hit a Map All button to see all the gas stations on a map, so you aren’t driving for forty minutes to save three cents a gallon.
Get the new version at wls.live.com.
If you have a Blackberry, there’s a new Blackberry Live Search application. It doesn’t have the voice search or gas prices, but it does have all the regular local search, mapping, movie showtimes, and traffic information. It’s also available at wls.live.com.
They’ve also improved the browser-based Live Maps, available at m.live.com. It now includes better, more readable maps, traffic conditions (that are taken into account in the driving directions).
There are two videos about the new Live Search mobile application, the first being a two-minute rundown, the other an eight-minute more detailed overview, both available at Rob Chambers’ blog. I’d embed them here, but Soapbox doesn’t work in my regular browser, and IE seems convinced that Flash player isn’t installed.