Microsoft LIVE providing real-time location based search in the UK
Microsoft quietly launched a new feature on the mobile version of their live website at http://m.live.comhere in the UK. As you can see from the screenshots below, there is now a “find me” button.
Users in the UK who access m.live.com from their native WAP browser (would not work on Opera Mobile or Opera Mini) are automatically located by their mobile operator. Once they are located, the searches they conduct are centred around the location returned from the cell-ID look-up from the operator.
I am aware of how the service works, but I am not sure if I am allowed to share the service provider (or the method) with my readers, so for now I will wait until the local service provider decides to brag about this new service.
Pros: A good service – as it does not require me to download anything – it just relies on the WAP browser, and it ties my next search to where I am – making the search results more relevant
Cons: As it is using network cell-ID from the operator, it can take 4-6 seconds for the network to locate me, and so I have to wait for the “fix” to happen before I can search. Each time I want to do a location search and I am in a new area, I have to execute a new “find”. At least it tells me where my last search was so if I know I have moved since then, I can execute a new find request.
True transparent local search will arrive when I don’t have to tell the application that I want to be found – if finds me and caches the location ahead of me needing it.
This is a good first step from Microsoft and it will be interesting to see how heavily they promote it, and if they release stats on how many people have used the feature. I am sure both Google and Yahoo! will be watching this new initiative closely to see if they need to respond. At the moment, Google location search via the browser still needs you to enter your location (this is what I call DIY location search).
Why not try it now – point your mobile WAP browser to http://m.live.com if you are in the UK.