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Thursday, 12th October 2006

Ask.com Launches Mobile Search Product, Includes Maps and Aerial Imagery

The new services from Ask keep rolling out. Just a week or so after enhancing their weather features, it’s mobile search time.

Today, mobile search tool found at http://mobile.ask.com or if you want to save a few keystrokes, use http://m.ask.com. It’s simple and that should make the growing numbers of new mobile web users happy. It’s also new, so expect more in the near future. If you want to test Ask Mobile out on your regular browser, it will work. Like all search products, the best way to get to know it is by using it.

Tip: You can always return to the home page by clicking the “O” key on your telephone keypad.
The main features of the new service at launch are:

+ Web Search
Including some Smart Answers like weather, time zones and horoscopes. These can also be accessed by selecting the number located next to them on the home page. In other words, two ways to get to the same place. Ask.com’s Zoom feature is also available to help users narrow and focus their search. Btw, pages that are not formatted for mobile browsers are given some using a service called Skweezer (that we’ve written about on RS many times).

+ Maps
In this map crazy world you’ll notice that Ask.com Mobile Maps not only offers the actual map but also aerial imagery. That’s right, aerial imagery on your mobile browser. This is something we haven’t see that many other places. Maps can be manipulated by clicking arrow keys and you’ll find direct links to local listings “find nearby” and the option to send a link to the phone via SMS. Of course, entering a city without State info will offer up a list as seen on other Ask.com services to help the user select.

Aerial Examples for Mobile:
The two United Airlines terminals at O'Hare Airport in Chicago:


Fenway Park in Boston

+ Directions
Like Ask.com does on regular web search we offer both driving and walking directions. It’s also a click to “swap” your beginning and ending address. As I was testing this out two things came to my attention that our really cool.
A) Here’s a Walking Route from Michigan Ave in Chicago to Wrigley Field.
Note, both the ability to view the directions in list form or turn by turn. Many pages also help the searcher with ambiguity by offering links labeled “All Matches.” For example, is it North Maple or South Maple? In some cases, arrows will even tell you which way to turn. Color and maybe even fun. You can always go to the first step (click 3) or last step (click 4).

+ Local Listings
Send to your phone via SMS.

+ Image Search
Three images per page.

+ Blog Search
Direct link to the Bloglines search tool. It also uses Skweezer
Other features available now include, Area Codes, Currency Conversion, Horoscopes, and time zones. Look for sports scores, movie times, and more in the future.
Finally, in keeping with the Ask.com tradition of being able to access most info direct from the web search box, this is also possible on mobile for some (not all info types). For example, weather 10036; 1 U.S. dollar in Mexican Pesos; Time in London, UK.

Bottom Line:
More services can be and should be added and I for one will do my best to make sure they become available.


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