Google isn’t taking chances in mobile. The company is making sure that you can access Maps and local information if you text, use a WAP/mobile browser or prefer a rich mobile application, previously available only for Java phones. But now Google has introduced its maps application for Windows Mobile phones. (There’s also the suspected Google automated directory assistance service 877-520-Find, in the U.S.)
I have a Sprint Pocket PC, which runs on Windows Mobile. I sat down this morning to compare Google Maps on the desktop, on the mobile browser and on the new Windows Mobile application.
My preliminary conclusion is that the Google Windows Mobile client provides an experience that is significantly better than the mobile browser and almost as good as the desktop — in some ways better.
It offers very rich maps (with pan and zoom), real-time traffic, satellite imagery (who cares here) and very usable driving directions, because of the resolution and functionality of the maps. You can also search for businesses nearby any location. And your history is remembered, which is very convenient and minimizes the need to re-key common locations: your home or work address, for example.
In fact, the keyboard is heavily de-emphasized here.
One nice feature on my GPS-enabled phone is that I’m able to indicate locations on the map (via touch screen) as start or end points for a trip, without specifying an address. The application then creates a route between the two points.
I can also search for businesses near any point on the map in that same way. And I can add businesses found on the map to my contacts or call those businesses with a single “click.”
The traffic and GPS functions make the application superior to Google Maps on the desktop in some respects. Unfortunately, however, the reviews, business details (e.g., hours, cards accepted, etc.) and other non-contact information that appear online are not available here. The underlying listings data are, as far as I can tell, identical to the database available online through Maps (which is good but incomplete).
There are no ads anywhere, but one would expect that to eventually change.