Refreshed: Windows Live Search for Mobile

Microsoft's updated search app for Windows Mobile phones catches up with some much-needed functionality.

On Tuesday, Microsoft released version 4.0 of Windows Live Search Mobile, its downloadable search and map app for Windows Mobile 5 and 6, which the company demoed last week at CES.

With this release, Microsoft is finally starting to catch up to other free clients doing mobile voice and text search on other platforms--Google Mobile App, Yahoo Go, and Vlingo among them.

Windows Live Search on Windows Mobile
From left to right: bird\'s eye view, query auto-suggest, and directions. (Credit: Microsoft)

Taking a page from Google's book, perhaps, the new Locate Me feature in Windows Live Search Mobile can work on non-GPS phones to zero in on your approximate location. If that fails, you can easily add your location manually instead.

Predictive text is also new--when you type a query into the search box, the app will suggest a search term in order to save your fingers some typing. The app did better remembering past queries than it did predicting new ones, and it did not begin suggesting new search terms until we were almost done typing them.

In addition, the search box will now accept mixed queries; for instance, if you speak or type a business name and city into the search box, you'll see results for the business in that second location, without changing your master location. Hunting down a Dunkin' Donuts in Boston when you're living in San Francisco is one example.

Bird's Eye View is the splashiest of the added features, adding a third mode to map-viewing that's akin to Google's Street View. The landmarks we saw were clear, but the view is limited to "select urban areas" and grays out if the one you want isn't part of it. We hope the selection will expand soon.

These additions enhance Windows Live Search's otherwise well-integrated features--click-to-call, SMS, driving directions, and search modules that focus on traffic, movies, gas stations, and weather in your area.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.