Directions

Navigation Shortcuts is a nifty app for your Windows Phone 8 device that lets you create...well...navigation shortcuts.  The shortcuts will launch whatever navigation app is installed on your Windows Phone and create turn by turn directions to get you to where you need to go.

You can pin shortcut  tiles for your destination to your Start Screen, launch navigation shortcuts with voice commands or tap on a destination within the app to launch directions.

While there's not much to Navigational Shortcuts, it's a handy app to have by giving you quick access to your navigational needs.

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Save My Spot! gets updated, drops ads

Save My Spot! is a decent app for your Windows Phone (here's our review) to help you remember and get back to various spots in your life. Be it a favorite restaurant or where you saw that special something something for your wife, Save My Spot! will record the GPS coordinates for the spot as well as tons of descriptive elements to get you back there.

Save My Spot! was recently updated to version 1.1 to add functionality to manage categories in the settings and to remove the banner ads. The latter is a welcome fix in that Save My Spot! may have been the only paid app that had ad banners. Kudos for the developer to stepping up and taking corrective action on this oversight.

The developer tells us that there is more in store for Save My Spot! with future updates (maybe a trial version?). Save My Spot! is running $.99, is now ad-free and you can find it here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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Quick Look: Take Me Home for Windows Phone

Here's a quick look at an interesting navigation application for your Windows Phone. Take Me Home is a no-frills, basic navigation app that will generate directions to a series of saved addresses.

Take Me Home has two pages, one entitled Settings where you enter your addresses and assign it an icon and another that will tap into mobile Google Maps to generate directions to your destination.  You do have two options on the Settings Page to turn on/off location services and auto navigate features.  Once you've entered the address, swipe over to the Navigation Page and you can generate the directions.

I like the concept and ease of generating directions to saved locations but Take Me Home only provides text directions. You can tap on the individual step in the directions overview to pull up a thumbnail map but that is a little cumbersome.  

I do like the options to choose walking, transit and driving directions. This could come in handy when traveling and you need to rely on mass transit or your feet to get you to your destination.

The developer notes in the Marketplace description that more features are on the way and hopefully a map view that routes your course is among them.  As is, Take Me Home is a decent app for your Windows Phone but does have room for improvement.

Take Me Home is a free Windows Phone app and can be found here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.  Additionally, Take Me Home Pro (allows you to save up to four addresses) is running $.99 and you can find the Pro version here at the Marketplace.

          

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We have two reports coming in from Italy and France that the voice guidance in Bing has been removed from the 7712 beta, even though it was present in the earlier one.

Voice guidance, for turn-by-turn directions, was one of the key features for Bing in the Mango update. While not as effective nor impressive as carrier-offered services (not to mention data usage), it was quite decent and you know, free.

Word of caution though: 7712 is obviously not 7720 aka the RTM build, so it is unclear at this point if this has been removed due to (a) time or (b) other, more permanent reasons. We'd like to think that this was just an omission from this build and not the final. We've reached out to Microsoft for clarification.

The good news for U.S. residents is it is still present in our release. Any of our international readers from other countries want to report in? Hit the comments...

Update: Gone from Australia too, according to Andrew in comments, meaning this isn't a language issue but rather something else. Appears to be missing from all markets except U.S & UK.

Source: Plfaffo and Professeur Thibault

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Of all the new features, the one some of us are pretty excited about is turn-by-turn navigation in Bing. It was something that many of us got used to on Windows Mobile, so it's been a struggle in 2010-11 to have it go missing (especially with an EVO available for driving).

While the system is hardly ground-breaking, it looks well implementd here and should greatly help when driving around a new part of town. Check after the break for a video of the Mango emulator in action.

Source: YouTube (SharpGIS) Thanks, Sébastien M, for the snapshot above

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We kept emphasizing at MIX11 that the information revealed there was geared for developers, not so much consumers and that we expected more details to come forward over time. Combined with the fact that Mango/WP7.5 is not yet finished nor finalized, it's feature-set is still in motion but becoming more solid as we get closer to it going 'Gold'.

On the Windows Phone Developer Podcast, a plethora of new features were announced that will really bring Windows Phone up to par with the competition:

  • Bing Audio: Think Shazam, but built into Bing and we bet of course Zune Marketplace. Country support is initially limited to the U.S., Great Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Germany.
  • Bing Vision: A full blown image scanner using your camera. It can detect, identify and search using barcodes, Microsoft Tags, QR Codes, CD’s, DVDs, Books, and text using OCR (see here for history)
  • Turn-by-turn navigation: “voice guidance during driving directions” (we heard about this awhile ago)
  • SMS Dictation: Using Microsoft's TellMe service, you can use voice-to-text for SMS messages by tapping a microphone near the bottom

According to Paul Thurrott, who detailed the above, there's a lot more to the podcast, so take a listen. And your thoughts in comments: does this change things?

Update: See info regarding Windows Live Messenger, Skydrive & more in WP7.5 here

Source: Windows Phone Dev Podcast; via Windows Phone Secrets

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Review: Copilot Live 8

There are some pretty cool technologies involved in the hardware that is being crammed into our Windows Phones these days. WiFi, various cellular technologies, GPS, et al. My vote for the coolest of these is GPS. The fact that some very intelligent person somewhere came up with the idea of putting machines into orbit around the globe and then using these to navigate is extremely impressive to me.

Harnessing the full power of the GPS on a Windows Phone can be a difficult proposition. Free tools such as Google Maps and Bing/Live Search are capable of utilizing a GPS receiver, but they don’t give you all of the benefits that we have come to expect from a full featured GPS.

Copilot Live is one of the premier GPS applications for Windows Phones. Now in version 8, ALK Solutions has re-worked their pricing to make this amazing software accessible to just about anyone with a Windows Phone. (See my review of Copilot 7 here.)

To see the new features that Copilot Live 8 offers, check out the review after the jump.

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