Killer Live Search feature available on Vodafone UK
In April 2008 Live Search launched a feature in the UK and Japan called ‘Find my location’ which enables you to browse to http://m.live.com on your phone and find your location without having a GPS receiver or extra software installed. This isn’t the same as the ‘My Location’ feature in Google Maps for Mobile because that relies on an installed piece of software and Google’s own database of mast locations. The Live Search implementation relies on the service providers themselves which has the advantage of being up to date and working in a browser but the disadvantage of relying on a third party which is why it only works in the UK and Japan right now.
Unfortunately when I tried to use the feature back in April it didn’t actually work and after investigation I discovered that it was because my service provider, Vodafone, hadn’t opened up Location-Based-Services (LBS) on their internet gateway. When I tried the feature today whilst at Heathrow airport I was delighted to find that Vodafone had twiddled the appropriate knobs to turn this on so if you are in the UK and are on Vodafone head to http://m.live.com and try it out. I don’t think it works on all phones (I stand to be corrected) but it works on mine so I’m happy. Here’s a screenshot after I’d tried it at Heathrow:
I understand that we have Oded Ran at Microsoft UK to thank for this. Kudos Oded!
UPDATE: Oded has provided the following information and has permitted me to share it:
Find My Location with Live Search works on most mobile phones from O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone in the UK. The mobile phone has to be configured to use the network’s default WAP gateway. Luckily, most mobile phones (including the popular Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and Windows Mobile models) are configured that way so users can start using Find My Location right away by going to msn.co.uk from their mobile’s web browser.
Unfortunately, some mobile phones like O2’s iPhone, some BlackBerry smartphones on corporate plans and handsets with Opera browsers do not pass through the network WAP gateway. For this reason, Find My Location might not work on these phones. In this case, users can still enjoy Live Search on their mobiles but will not be able to use Find My Location.
Thanks again Oded!