Following on from AOL, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and other portal players, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is the latest of the lot to introduce a new version of its search software for PCs and mobiles. This newest edition of Live Search focuses on incorporating more location-based and mapping services. Features for handsets will include a function to input instructions by voice, local gas prices and business opening hours, and GPS capabilities. It also has the first tangible product of MSFT’s acquisition of Tellme Networks: a 411-style toll-free number people can use to get voice-activated local directory information and maps. The upgrade means Live Search is also now usable with certain Blackberry devices. The PC version includes, among other features, a new iteration of a driving directions application — perhaps an admission that the old one was no good? — as well as links to local user-generated content.
If you couple this news with Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) recent purchase of Navteq for $8.1 billion, it gives a pretty clear indication of where the handset OS players believe that mobile services are going (no pun intended…). The download is free. release