GPS, Widgets and the Mobile Web


Two days ago, mobile location services publisher uLocate launched WHERE, a GPS-enabled mobile widget platform. For now the product is apparently only available to Sprint customers.

Maybe I’m too much of a geek to have a representative opinion on this – but I generally believe that widgets will be one of the next big things on mobile phones. They’re all about personalization, they can be smart productivity tools for niche markets – or they’re simply fun: Yes, I firmly believe people want to see the countdown to the next Harry Potter book release, or the live status of their favourite World of Warcraft realm on their phone’s screen while it’s idle, rather than the boring old clock!

But jokes aside, I think there’s lots of examples where widgets make a lot of sense – especially on mobile: presence information of your most important contacts; the status of your ebay auctions; maybe the visitor statistics of your blog? The data fees spent surfing the Web on your phone this month so far! Or animated slideshows generated randomly from the photos stored on your phone. Endless possibilities. And with GPS integration, there’s even more room for cool ideas!

GPS integration should definitely be on the feature list of any mobile widget platform (so come on Bluepulse and mobease! πŸ™‚ ). And while we’re at it: I think it should also be on the feature list of mobile browsers! With more and more phones that have GPS built in (and cheap Bluetooth GPS receivers for those who don’t), JavaScript access to longitude and latitude might be (almost) all that’s needed to kick-start the location based mobile Web! But then again… I might be too much of a geek to have a representative opinion in this πŸ˜‰

7 Responses to “GPS, Widgets and the Mobile Web”

  1. Hello Rainer. I totally agree with your remark that JavaScript access to current position would be a great enabler for LBS services. But I consider it one part of API to something what should one day become available to developers as an ubiquitous positioning platform for mobile and fixed devices.

  2. The location based jsr 179 is currently avaiable on most new phones and has some nice features relating to presence. Its also quite easy to use see for an downlaodable example.

  3. Ad JSR 179: I tried that on an old Siemens phone some time ago (CX70 or S65?). But even though the interfaces were implemented according to the spec, there didn’t seem to be any functionality behind it. AFAIK, Blackberry has implemented JSR179 access to their GPS in e.g. the 8800; but on none-GPS phones I can’t imagine how JSR179 would work without the network operator explicitely supporting it. What’s the status in the UK with regard to that issue?

  4. You can right your own parser which I have done in the to connect to any bluetooth gps which works just as well as the jsr but without some of the added functionality. At the moment the jsr is emerging on phone but at moment i still use the parser for older models

  5. Mystic, I was unable to download locoblog 😦 I do have a SonyEricsson, however. Are the problems you state on your news ticker related to that? You have a relative URL in your .jad – and my k608i always needs absolute MIDlet URLs, unfortunately. So that might be an issue. If, however, the problem wit SE is, by any chance, related to the reception of the Bluetooth data stream… (I also wrote my own NMEA parser πŸ˜‰ ) SE’s seem to have an issue in their JSR-82 implementaion. I think there’s something wrong with .available() in their InputStream impl. Haven’t had the time to look into it, though as we are also working with Nokias mostly. Cheers, Rainer

  6. Rainer

    We have got Bluetooth working on SE see which is a seredipity game experiment. The with locoblog problems seem to be just some general porting issues it just that we havent had time to really produce a version for SE. I tend to work with Nokia’s as they supply me with toys :)as a Forum Nokia Champion

  7. I tend to work with Nokia’s as they supply me with toys πŸ™‚ as a Forum Nokia Champion

    Sounds like a convincing reason to me πŸ˜€ Cheers, Rainer

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