One of my favorite Windows Mobile applications has been Bing (the application formerly known as “Live Search”). This application has saved my bacon on more than one occasion when travelling on business or vacation. The ability to search for vital resources, wherever I am, like the closest Starbucks has been invaluable to me.
While Live Search was great, the UI was a little clunky and was not developed with capacitive screens and the corresponding touch navigation in-mind. Capacitive screens while more sensitive to touch, have a larger minimum hit target size. Actually comparing Live Search to the new Bing is a good example of how an application designed for a resistive screen has been updated to also work with capacitive screens.
The usability has greatly improved. For example to starting navigating to the nearest Starbucks, you:
- From the Bing home page, Tap ‘Speak’ and say ‘Starbucks’
- Select the ‘Starbucks’ you want to go to
- Tap the Car icon for driving directions
- Tap on ‘Navigate’ (If you are on foot, select the ‘Walk’ tab for walking directions.)
Immediately a route is calculated for you and Silicon Sally is telling you where to go. Yes ‘telling you’, with voice directions! This is a huge improvement over Live Search that had text only turn-by-turn directions. In the Bing settings, you can specify if you want to route via the shortest or fastest route. You can also configure Bing to consider real-time traffic conditions when calculating your route.
Now featuring ‘auto-rerouting’! Live Search would prompt you will a demoralizing ‘Are you lost? Would you like to reroute from here?’ prompt whenever you deviated from your planned route. Bing for mobile smartly just tells you that it is ‘rerouting’ and updates your driving directions based on your current location.
All the great features of Live Search are still here like quick access to locally playing movies and show times.
You can install Bing for mobile from the Marketplace for Windows Phone here.
More information here.