Microsoft releases the final updates of its Live Search service, for this period and also announces the availability of Live Search 411 service, a toll free access to local businesses and other local information such as weather updates, movie show times among other local details. The 411 service is a direct answer to Google’s 411 apps. The new Live Search features improve on Live Search’s location-aware technology that enhances local search experience.
These new features include:
- Innovative driving directions – more accurate and easy-to-use driving directions which includes rerouting based on real-time traffic information, one-click essential directions with no starting point needed, inline hints if drivers have gone the wrong way, and one-page printing.
- Innovative visualization and 3-D – increased coverage of bird’s eye and 3-D imagery of 80% of the U.S. population, including 200 complete cities. 3-D imagery and 45-degrees bird’s eye images can be combined to come up with a complete and detailed geolocation experience. Live search Maps users can now create and share their own 3-D models of buildings through a partnership with Dassault Systemes.
- Innovative local content index including user-generated content – Live Search now includes a broad set of expert sources and broad access to user-generated content from Live Search and across the web. This search is carried out using user-created collections and Keyhole Markup Language (KML) support.
- Virtual Earth platform updates – version 6.0 of Virtual Earth now includes multipoint trip routing, enhanced geocoding, rooftop geocoding, and map control support for Safari 2.0 and MapCruncher beta.
Likewise, Live Search for mobile has also been enhanced with three new features:
- Live Search for Windows Mobile with Voice Input – now includes voice input, gas prices, and hours of business operations. It also now use Global Positioning System data on GPS –enabled phones
- Live Search 411 – Toll free access to a voice recognition service for business or business category text by dialing (800) CALL-411 (800-225-5411) connects users instantly to listed businesses.
- Live Search for BlackBerry Device – Exclusively for Blackberry handsets with OS 4.0.2 and GPS-enabled phones.
We have already seen some of these enhancements in Google search a long time ago. I wonder why Microsoft took these too long to introduce these new features. But then, it’s never too late to catch up, for who knows Windows Live Search may actually pull it off and get to where Google search is right now.