gps

We've talked about the differences between aGPS and GPS before, but we can now add another form of aGPS to the bunch: QuickGPS

QuickGPS is from Qualcomm (technically called gpsOneXTRA Assistance) and is an Internet-based form of aGPS or offline aGPS whereby your device, once a week, downloads a data file that has all the ephemeris data contained (file = packedephemeris.ee).  This data is good for 7 days and helps calculate your position faster without the need for an Internet connection at the moment of initiation (ala network-based aGPS).  "Cold starts" go from a minute or more to just seconds. Very cool.

HTC has been incorporating this into some of its devices lately (e.g. Touch Pro) and Palm has it on the GSM Treo Pro.  HTC calls it QuickGPS as it made a nice app to initiate the system (see above photo). 

But as usual, some of us were not invited to the party (e.g. Sprint Mogul, Touch, etc.) and the community has effectively taken matters into their own hands, hacking this onto various devices.  The latest is the Sprint/Alltel Treo Pro and we have to admit, it works like a charm. 

So if you want to join in and speed up your GPS system, feel free to browse those threads!  And remember: back up before you do so!  This also may not work on all devices--if you get "QuickGPS.exe' cannot be opened. Either it is not signed with a trusted certificate, or one of its components cannot be found. If the problem persists, try reinstalling or restoring this file." that would be you, sorry.

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
1

Matthew Miller with the Pharos 137

We saw the Pharos Traveler 137 clear the FCC a few weeks ago, and Matthew Miller of ZDNet (and our own Nokia Experts) gives the phone a run-through. The 137 is a GPS-centric Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional phone. It doesn't have any U.S. carrier support, so you're not likely to see them roaming the streets in packs. But you can pick one up between $500 and $600, so it's not out of reach if you're so inclined.

Check out Matthew's unboxing and initial hands-on above, and head on over to ZDNet for his initial write-up on the phone.

More →
0
loading...
0
loading...
0
loading...
0
loading...

That Verizon Touch Pro ROM update that unlocks the GPS? It's now officially up on PCD's Web site (that's where the official Verizon releases congregate), and it's there as a Version 2. Apparently a GPS bug was discovered in the first update that PhoneNews was hosting, and PhoneNews now lets us know that this new version takes care of it. And since it's the official official version, here's the changelog:

  • Added Visual Voicemail support.
  • Added EVRC B capability
  • Added Standalone GPS Capability.

Go get it here. And as always, back up your info first. And happy flashing!

Update: Sorry, folks, looks like the update's been pulled again. And nobody's saying why. We'll keep you updated.

Update 2: It's up again! Only change anyone can tell is in the date of the file.

More →
0
loading...
0
loading...
0
loading...
0
loading...
4

Verizon unlocks Touch Pro's GPS

We've been pushing and pushing for Verizon to unlock the GPS on its smartphones, and it looks like they're finally starting to get the job done.

A new ROM has been released for the HTC Touch Pro, says PhoneNews. [via] Version 1.08 opens up GPS for use in Google Maps as well as Live Search for Mobile. A commenter also notes that the GPS even works in airplane mode. The update also gives visual voicemail and a new voice codec.

For now, PhoneNews has the only link to the update, but keep an eye out for one from Verizon itself. UPDATE: That previous ROM had a bug, apparently. New link here.

Now, about unlocking GPS on your other phones, Verizon ...

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...

Dear Verizon,

Last November we published an open letter exhorting you to stop limiting GPS functionality on Windows Mobile handsets. Our arguments were quite good, if we do say so ourselves. The competition you're facing right now is tough in large part because those competing carriers have platforms with GPS that works freely with any app. It makes for a better customer experience on your network and (this is nearer to our hearts) on Windows Mobile. If you feel like you're hedging on GPS, we really suggest you go back and read it again

So naturally we were elated when we heard in December that you intended on unlocking standalone GPS for the Omnia, Saga, and Touch Pro in the first half of 2009. Sincerely, that's really great news. So consider this a friendly reminder: there are only a couple of months left in the "first half of 2009" (trust us, we've been paying attention to that date elsewhere).

How about it, big V? Are we going to see some ROM updates soon? Will the rumored May 11 date pan out? We're able to go with unofficial ROMS and GPS hacks, but we're really not happy about it.  We like being happy – it makes us better customers.

Love,

The WMExperts Team

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
7

GPSToday: Killer GPS app for WM

There are a few true killer apps on Windows Mobile and GeoTerrestrial's GPSToday is certainly a contender (Live Search is the other).

What is GPSToday?

As far as I can tell, it fills in the gaps that other GPS programs leave open. From my experience, its main function is to simply tell you where you are in the world. But unlike Google Maps/Live Search, which just shows your physical location on a map, GPSToday goes one step further by getting your coordinates, translating that into a real street address and displaying it directly on your Today screen (via the plugin).

All of this happens within about 15 seconds and a simple touch of an icon.

There is also the ability to attach your GPS coordinates automatically to photos, see your location of your contacts automatically and get directions to and from places. Plus the new feature: GPS weather, where it will show your weather directly based on your GPS coordinates. All wrapped up in a nice, simple (and currently free) program.

Read on for the feature breakdown and brief review!

Breakdown

 

There are two main parts to the program: the Today plugin and the Maps application. There is also a useful configuration screen for setting up and modifying the settings.

Plugin: This is the main interface for the app and it’s pretty simple, it’s also “touch friendly” so your stylus need not apply. To the left is the Red icon with a little satellite icon—it turns green when trying to pull your GPS signal and displays the number of satellites found. In the middle is the “display” section which shows your street address (or optionally coordinates).

The little person/icon is “Save to Contacts” which allows you to directly copy the current info to a current or new contact.

 

The “stopwatch” icon is the option to automatically lookup your current location at timed intervals (1 minutes, 5, 10, 30, 1 hour, Auto or Off) so in theory you could have your current location updated every 30 minutes automatically, all you have to do is glance down at your screen and you’ll know your street address.

 

Finally the Map icon brings up the mapping portion. Tapping the Map will download mapping data of your current location and will optionally show points of interest (POI) and/or Contacts, which is very cool.

 

For those concerned with battery life, GPSToday can do a one-time Quick Fix: it will turn on, do the lookup, display the street address and then turn off the GPS system meaning you only have GPS/data activated for about 20-30 seconds—all the work is done for you! This is probably my favorite part as nothing beats finding our current street address. What good is there in knowing your visual location on a map or your coordinates when trying to meet up with some friends? It’s much easier to tell someone “Yeah, I’m at…435 Motts Street right now”. (Note: due to GPS sensitive, the exact location lookup is sometimes off by a few houses, so YMMV. But for the most part, this will get your address within a few stops.)

Maps: the Map is accessed via the Today plugin and has your usual assortment of options: display POI, contacts, zoom in/out, refresh, weather and geocaching/geotagging of pictures options.

 

Weather: the weather option was just added to the latest version and is pretty simple but very neat. Basically it pulls down your current temperature and basic weather based on your GPS location. It can display this on the today plugin as the temperature or on the maps:

 

Geotagging of photos: here’s another very useful feature. Simply enable it via the add on freeware program (it’ll prompt you to download) and whenever you snap a photo, the GPS coordinates will be tagged to the picture. This of course can then be used for stuff like Flickr, where built in mapping of your photos can add a cool twist to your collection.

 

Conclusion and the future

GPSToday is just a fantastic application. It was quickly updated by the developers for 320x320 resolution devices (Samsung i780, Treo 800w/Pro), has new features being added all the time (e.g. GPS Weather) and I’ve heard we can expect some more features in later versions (think “friend finder/social networking” abilities).

If you have GPS built in, this is one of the most useful programs available as knowing your current street address, seeing your contacts in relation to you, being aware of the current weather, geotagging your photos, etc. are all things we can use in our daily lives.

In short, programs like GPSToday are what make “smarpthones” truly smarpthones—they do the work for you, seamlessly and provide really useful information in an instant.

Any downsides? Probably just these two major limitations:

  • Only WM Pro devices (WM Standard is not currently supported)
  • Mapping data is U.S. based only

Hopefully some of that will be addressed in later versions.

Download Here and read their FAQ with some tips and tricks right here.

Ratings (out of 5)

  • Function: 5
  • Ease of use: 5
  • Cost (none): 5
  • Features: 5

Overall:

Pros

  • Unique GPS app
  • Currently freeware
  • Very useful
  • Easy to use
  • Great features with more to come

Cons

  • Not for WM Standard (non-touchscreen)
  • U.S. mapping data only
More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
0

SiRF (GPS) bought out by CSR (BT)

SiRF, which designs the popular standalone GPS systems like SiRF III, which found in just about every GPS device, has been bought out by CSR. Who’s CSR, you ask? They’re “…a global leader in the Bluetooth connectivity business with core expertise in multiple connectivity technologies.”

So basically SiRF designs GPS technology and CSR makes multifunction chips. Seems to make sense and an obvious response to such companies as Qualcomm that have been making “all in one” MSM solutions for years now and which also have the very successful GPSOne competitor to SiRF III. (Read up on GPS vs. aGPS here)

The big question of course is what does this mean for standalone GPS systems and mobile phones? SiRFIII has been demonstrated to be a more accurate system than aGPS, yet due to costs and Qualcomm’s near stranglehold on much of the mobile market, they have been mostly sidelined. However, with companies like Palm turning to Texas Instruments for their Pre, the resurgence of Marvel’s XScale chips, and now nVidia entering the scene, this new SiRF/CSR hybrid may stand a better chance of offering an alternative and superior solution to consumers.

We’ll be watching guys to see what you can come up with.

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
11

Review: Google Maps with Latitude

Google's watching you. Or at least that is what some of the headlines read when Google launched its latest version of Google Maps. The reason behind all the conspiracy theories cropping up like wild fire is that the newest version includes a new feature called Latitude.

Latitude is a feature that utilizes cell-tower triangulation, GPS or your home IP to approximate your location so friends can find where you're hiding located. In turn, you can see where your friends are. Hence the "big brother" analogies that immediately came to mind. Now that all the dust has settled we took the latest version of Google Maps with Latitude out for a test drive. To see how much attitude latitude has, read on after the break. And be sure to listen to what Dieter and Malatesta have to say about Latitude in this week's WMExperts Podcast.

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...

Our man Malatesta has spied an update to Windows Live Search Mobile. We're all sitting here in the WME mothership in our anti-gravity chairs (what, your office doesn't have them?) working with the new build, but for the life of us we can't figure out what's been updated. Microsoft also has been mum so far on the new version, which now stands at 4.1.2029.1, up from 4.0.12158.1. Could just be bug fixes, but jumping from 4.0 to 4.1 could mean more.

So we put it to you, dear readers. First one to leave a significant finding in the comments will live on forever in WME immortality.

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...

We caught word just a few days ago about a HTC Diamond ROM update for Sprint and worldwide, but now it look like the Touch Pro is getting ready for one too.

Evidently, Alexandr Skaryd from XDA had a conversation with HTC Europe about the GPS lag problem.  The crux of the convo is below:

Dear Mr. Skaryd I just wanted to get back to you in order to see if you have gotten the GPS working better. I would also like to inform you that there will be a ROM upgrade available in the near future (1.19). Please feel free to get back to us at any time if you have any further questions or queries. Kind Regards Dave Montanya HTC Europe

The bigger news is that HTC appears to be aware of this GPS lag and one can hope that this upcoming ROM addresses this problem.

In case you don't feel like waiting though, head over to M're undefined , who has a very detailed post explaining a "hack" you can do to improve your GPS.  Not suprisingly, it partially involves turning off aGPS, amongst other things.  Check it out, it seems to be working for folks.

[ ppcgeeks & pocketnow]

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...

We've long raved about the merits of Windows Live Search Mobile and why it's our favorite free piece of navigation software. (Read the full review here.) And Microsoft is very much keeping pace with that other app — and that in itself is something to celebrate.

So without further ado, join us for WMExperts' top five reasons why we love Windows Live Search Mobile, and especially some of the more recent updates.

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
32

Verizon Relents! GPS to Open Up Next Year!

Ok, we're totally not going to take credit for this, but it looks like people who have joined our campaign to demand Verizon unlock GPS on their Windows Mobile offerings are receiving a stock reply that's looking, well, good! User efudd sends us his reply from the Big V:

Verizon Wireless, like all carriers, orders devices to meet certain specifications inclusive of features. Each of these specs is tested to determine if it meets our performance goals. There are instances when the phone will pass our extensive testing process but a specific feature may not meet the standard. We will often choose to introduce the phone without that feature but ask that the manufacturer come back to us with revised software that has to be tested to make sure the service works the same across our entire wireless footprint --from Maine to Hawaii. In the case of open standalone GPS, we are partnering with the Windows Mobile device manufacturers to provide a software upgrade that will add this capability to the existing assisted GPS capability. This is a complex development project to provide open standalone GPS while maintaining the assisted GPS capability with the level of performance and security that our customers expect. The recently introduced Windows Mobile devices including Omnia, Saga, and Touch Pro are targeted to add open standalone GPS in the 1st half of 2009.


Steve Schwed
Verizon Wireless
HQ Executive Relations Supervisor

Emphasis ours above. That's the Omnia, Saga, and Touch Pro, yo. That's complete, open, standalone GPS. Heck, we're even going to grant the point (because we should) that implementing GPS on the latest generation of fully-integrated chips is really tough these days. Still, chalk this one up under the Win column.

This isn't WMExperts taking credit though, because, well, it looks like our strategy of physical, snail-mail email wasn't the right strategy (Thanks for nothing, US Postal service -- at least when email fails, we get an error message). This was all you guys, the heroes. Heck, maybe Verizon meant to do this from the get-go (they have been claiming they intend on being more open), but a little pressure doesn't hurt!

Big ups to our readers and big ups to Verizon for doing the right thing.

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
6

Quick Tip: You May Not Want aGPS On

We've gone to great lengths to explain the differences between GPS and aGPS and also generally celebrated the arrival of full-on aGPS on many a carrier. One thing, though, if you have one of these fancy, aGPS phones, you may not necessarily want to have the thing on, because it could potentially make your GPS acquisition times worse.

The advice comes to us by way of MyTodayScreen and here's the nut of it: if you're using an unlocked device or an otherwise non-carrier-supported device, it's a good bet that turning on aGPS is going to lengthen your acquisition time as the assisted part of it tries (and fails) to get location information from the local tower. They ran into the issue using a TouchHD, where turning off aGPS sped up acquisition time significantly. I've had the same issue on the HTC s740 on AT&T: turning off aGPS made a big difference for me, too.

Yeah, sorry, it's not a simple situation (this stuff never is). Even if you are using a fully-supported device on its proper carrier and aGPS is up and running in your area, it's still one more potential point of failure. Just because things are getting better on the GPS front doesn't mean that Microsoft, manufacturers, and carriers don't have a long way to go to making location hardware simple.

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...

No surprises here if you've been following the ROM modding community, but it looks like lllboredlll over at ppcgeeks has figured out how unlock the standalone GPS on that odd Verizon Touch Pro. This is of course before Verizon "officially" does it sometime next year.

The method is old hat for many and is unfortunately not as easy as installing a simple .cab. but it's not too bad either. Basically you have to copy a .dll to your card, install a .cab, navigate to find ppst.exe, run it and follow the prompts.

There is also an updated hack to fix the banner (as it changes with this hack) and to enable aGPS, but this one is more tricky as it involves running QPST (Qualcomm Product Support Tool), which is a pretty serious program for modifying core radio properties--so be careful!

What about you Verizon Omnia and Saga users? Sorry, no luck so far on those ends but people are trying (and Verizon is promising).

We'll keep you posted.

ppcgeeks via BGR

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...

We received a missive from Slartibartfast yesterday (no, not that Slartibartfast) that piqued our interest:

BGR is reporting from a Howard forums thread that VZ unlocked blackberry GPSs. Is your GPS initiative gaining traction at VZ?

Indeed, BGR was reporting and our friends at CrackBerry.com confirmed and chatted it up in their forums. Like ol' Slarti there (can we call you Slarti?), we felt the teeniest, tiniest tinge of excitement as we briefly believed that not only was Verizon actually going to be switching to a sane and reasonable GPS policy, but that maybe our sternly worded letter may have, you know, been read. Then we came back to earth. For one, this is on BlackBerry, not WM. For two, well, we're just not that big a deal.

For three, and here's the kicker, it turns out that while GPS on certain BB models have been unlocked, it's only been unlocked for BlackBerry Maps, not for other 3rd party GPS applications on the platform. In other words, it pretty much looks like RIM put the screws to Verizon to allow their own on-board Maps app to work properly so as to not screw with user expectations for the platform, but didn't fight so hard that they got the big V to open GPS up completely. Member fyrfyter at CrackBerry.com speculates that the screwdriver in this particular negotiation was the BlackBerry Storm, and that seems reasonable to us.

It's (half of) the sort of pressure on carriers to open things up we'd like to see from Microsoft, though. Any sign of weakness in Big Red's Lock-Down Armor is a good one, right?

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
39

Help us Save GPS on Windows Mobile

Dear Readers,

As you may know, the GPS situation on Windows Mobile is becoming unacceptable.

We're not talking about the fact that on certain phones you need to go into settings and muck around with Program Com Ports and Hardware Com Ports (though that, too, is pretty unacceptable). We're talking about GPS being locked down. This has to stop and we need your help to stop it.

Read on for the rest of our letter to you, our readers (but we hope that Microsoft and the manufacturers are reading, too).

GPS is Being Deliberately Broken

What do we mean by 'locked down'? We mean that GPS is there, fully functional, yet hidden from the OS and third party applications by the carrier. With several devices, users have to resort to registry hacks or other, 3rd party programs to 'enable' GPS for Windows Mobile and 3rd party apps to access it. Verizon is by far the worst player in this little lock-down game, but the other carriers aren't innocent either.

Often this 'lock down' is pretty easy to get around -- huge shout out to MoDaCo for freeing our AT&T WinMo Standard devices -- sometimes it is not. In both cases it is, as we said, unacceptable.

Why is GPS locked down? Well, so that only one program on your device can access it. It's known by several names: VZ Navigator, AT&T Navigation, Sprint Navigation. They're all the same program, though, TeleNav. By locking down GPS to only work with TeleNav, the carriers (and TeleNav, we suspect) are trying to force users into paying the monthly fee for Telenav instead of using free alternatives.

Here's the thing: Many of us love TeleNav. Some of us pay for the unlimited subscription and use it when we travel. Some of us even endorse it to people over on-SD-solutions when we're confident they'll usually have data available in their travels. TeleNav is fast, stable, provides nice 3D views, and good voice prompts.

Despite the obvious quality of TeleNav, we feel that locking GPS down out of the box so that it will only work with TeleNav breaks GPS on a smartphone.

Broken GPS Breaks the User Experience

Locking down GPS and forcing users into a subscription that, for many of them, is unnecessary is just plain wrong. It's turning something into a for-pay service solely by blocking functionality for users who aren't savvy enough to know what's happening. It's the evil god of ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) driving his horde of minions to perform unholy acts upon Windows Mobile, corrupting it with his dark stain. It's a devil's bargain and it needs to stop.

Imagine if the WiFi on your device only worked with AT&T hotspots, for which you had to pay a subscription. Imagine if the Bluetooth chip on your Q9h only interacted with Motorola headsets. Imagine if your phone had software built-in that purposefully blocked all IM clients except for the carrier-approved version from working.

That's what we're standing for right now with GPS. For you, reading this at this site, the pain of this isn't so bad. You know enough to know that you can get GPS to work with other programs after a bit of searching and a bit of work. Most people don't know this. Most will either not use GPS or think that they have no choice but to pay the subscription fee to use TeleNav.

Broken GPS Breaks the Windows Mobile Platform

Since most people are stuck in that situation, GPS may as well not even be on the device as far as development is concerned. Imagine you have an idea that will finally, finally, manage to really bring some sort of social/location based networking to the masses. It's popular enough and easy enough and clever enough that it will garner enough wide usage to become the 'de facto' LBS app that everybody uses and nobody will bother mucking around with trying to get their friends to sign up for this friendfinder or that friendfinder, because your genius app is the friendfinder. There are dozens of these companies around right now, but maybe you've figured out the LBS/Social trick that they haven't yet (hint: it probably has to do with FaceBook. Shh!).

Now imagine you have to pick a smartphone platform to release it on. Windows Mobile is easy to develop for, right? Most Windows Mobile phones these days have GPS built-in and a lot of users know that, right? You want it to be popular both in the US and abroad, right? You want it to work on a wide array of devices from the very cheap to the high end, right? Windows Mobile seems like an awfully attractive platform for you, dear LBS developer.

Now imagine a customer on Verizon who knows their phone has GPS because they use it with TeleNav. They download your app, GPS doesn't work, they tell their friends your app sucks. Not good. Maybe it's time to look at another platform for your first launch.

We're writing to our readers, sure, but just as importantly, we are writing to Microsoft and their manufacturing partners. Microsoft: this situation hurts your app, Live Search. It hurts your platform, in that it confounds people and drives developers to other platforms -- platforms that offer location APIs to all apps, not just to select, for-pay partner apps. It hurts your users. It hurts us. We hurt.

If a phone supports GPS it should support GPS at the OS level and make it available for all apps, just as is done on other mobile platforms like the iPhone and Android. Windows Mobile still can claim to be more 'open' than any other platform out there (perhaps barring Android) because of the deep and powerful access to the bits of the OS made available to developers. But if functionality can be locked down willy-nilly at the whims of carriers, suddenly the platform becomes arbitrarily closed and we lose those bragging rights.

How Can We Fix This?

We as Windows Mobile users have complained to our carriers, but yes, we could and should do more. We should boycott devices with locked-down GPS, but honestly we're likely to buy them anyway and unlock the GPS ourselves via backdoor methods. Granted, these methods aren't often actually 'hacks' but just small configuration changes -- but these settings should be the default.

So we'll make you a deal. From now on, whenever we find out that a carrier is releasing a Windows Mobile device with locked-down GPS, WMExperts is going to write an executive at that carrier a nice letter, on real paper, explaining why this is a bad idea. We encourage other lovers of Windows Mobile to do the same. If we all promise to do that, will you please try a little harder to stop your partners from locking down the GPS?

We've drafted up the our first letter to Verizon, here it is in PDF form. We invite you to write letters of your own (they're more effective if you write them yourself instead of just copying ours) as well. Just as importantly, we at WMExperts are publicly asking Microsoft to please work to place more pressure on carriers to stop breaking GPS for the good of the platform.

The short term gain in ARPU that carriers get by forcing users into branded versions of TeleNav is causing long term losses for Windows Mobile as a platform. It should be stopped. Now.

Hugs and Kisses, XOXO, and Happy Thanksgiving,

the WMExperts Team:
Dieter Bohn, Brian Hart, HobbesIsReal, Malatesta, George Ponder, Nick Gebhardt, Phil Nickinson, and Tim Ferrill

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
3

Tip of the Week: GParkS (Dude, Where's My Car?)

Confession: we love cool GPS apps here at WME.

This little freebie comes from smrtdrmmr over at XDA. Long story short: this is an app that you can use to GeoTag a location (actually up to 3) and it then tells you in feet (or KM) and direction how to get back to it.

Why? Ever park your car at a golf course, far, far from the football stadium where you are catching the local game? Did you ever then spend 20 mins trying to then find you car after the game? Yeah, well smrtdrmmr did and when he looked for a WM version of the popular iPhone app "Dude, Where's my Car" and couldn't find one.

So he went home and programmed up his own version.

It's not a pretty program, but darn it all, it works as advertised. In fact, you can tag up to three objects and name each one (see pic above). To use, just launch the app (you'll need .NET CF 3.5) and that'll kick off the GPS automatically. Give it a few seconds to stabilize your coordinates and then hit "Save". Later, re-launch the app and simply click "Find" and follow the directions. Simple!

Hats off to you smrtdrmmr! More info and download here (need to register).

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...

If rule No. 1 in business is "Location, location, location," rule No. 2 should be "Your butt better be on time."

Consider the following:

You're on your way to an important meeting full of important people, but there's just no way you're going to get there on time. If only there were a way to discretely — or, not so discretely — let a colleague know you're on your way, but running late.

Enter "Oops, I'm Late", which uses your GPS (built-in or Bluetooth) to determine if you're going to make it to your appointment on time. It's recently been updated Version 1.2.2 with support for Twitter and Facebook, and it's now available for free, if you don't mind putting up with some third-party advertising.

More on the application, those third-party ads, pricing options and our (brief) concerns after the jump.

The application

We were fans of "Oops I'm Late" after our first taste of it more than a year ago. The basic premise is this:

Take an appointment. The app attempts to automatically find its location with Yahoo maps and GeoNames.org. It initially thought my HR Conference Room was in eastern Europe, but whatever. You can help it out with the address.

You then designate who you want to notify in the even that you're going to be late. That can be one of your contacts by SMS, or you can go hardcore and let everyone know you're behind schedule by posting on Twitter of Facebook.

We'll stick with the personal touch, for now, thanks.

"Oops I'm Late"  then uses your GPS to determine where you are, how fast you're moving and whether you're going to get to your destination in time for the appointment. If you're not, it fires off a customizable message and gives the recipient an ETA. Here's the default:

Time is very important, both yours and mine. If possible, I attempt to be on time, but cannot always control traffic; this message is intended to inform you. I'm running late but will be there in a moment. Current ETA: %ETA%. Thanks. %SYSOwnerName%

Actually, these messages are stupidly (as in holy crap!) customizable, calling on your phone's system properties to plug in the variables. We're not quite talking constant updates to twitter as to your location/status, but it's close. Here's another example, from www.twitter.com/oopsimlate:

Sitting in my office and am 0.13 mi close to 7-Eleven. Likely to arrive 5:10 PM. My battery is only at 86% full. I haven’t read 39 emails.

It takes a few clicks to get everything set up. But once you get the hang of things, it at least becomes a little quicker (natch).

Advertising on the free version

When I first launched "Oops, I'm late," I was prompted to install a third-party app called Soma Launcher. Needless to say, this caused some hesitation and seemed to scream "Malware!" — and not as in, "Hey, Malatesta's got this great program ..." After all, we began this adventure to test out a free app, which any self-respecting Windows Mobile user will do before forking over any money.

After doing a  little digging at www.smaato.com, it appears that the Soma software is just a means to push advertising to a specific application (or applications) on your phone. Check out more at their Web site, but here's the company line:

Smaato Inc. is an ad-enabler for mobile phones, pioneering with its mobile advertising platform SOMA™ (Smaato Open Mobile Advertising) for the delivery of targeted mobile advertising. Smaato is partnering with international brands, advertising agencies, media companies, carriers and software developers for its cutting edge mobile advertising platform.

With its services Smaato addresses the rapidly growing mobile advertising market. Research company Informa Telecoms & Media predicts over US$11.35 billion of advertising spend on mobile channels by 2011 (informa research September 2006).

Silicon Valley based Smaato provides smarter, ad-enabled choices for global mobile phone users in their daily communication needs. Smaato News is an ad-enabled mobile RSS newsreader and ad-enabled Smaato Cost provides mobile cost control in real time. Independent software developers and content publishers are invited to use the open SOMA™ mobile advertising platform for their own mobile applications.

From the looks of things, this could have legs. There are beta clients for the iPhone and Android platforms, and Symbian S60, Java, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Palm clients are already up and running.

The question is: Just how much free advertising are you willing to put up with to us an application for free? You already see it in iPhone apps, as well as in gaming consoles such as the xBox.

The big difference here is that you have to consciously download a third-party application to do it, and that's when the hesitation comes it. Force-feed me free advertising, and I'll grudgingly swallow it. Give me a choice, and I'll likely eat elsewhere.

The bottom line

Fortunately, you don't have to put up with the free advertising — and that said, other than having to load an application just for ads, their placement within "Oops, I'm Late" is clean and for the most part non-intrusive.

And if you want to skip the ads altogether, there are several pricing options (Windows Mobile Standard and Professional): Add supported (free); Economy ($4.99); Standard ($14.99); and Professional ($24.99.) The features unlocked in each pricier version are a bit numerous, so check out the Web site for the full deets. Be forewarned: You can't send e-mail notifications that you're late unless you buy the full professional version.

The real bottom line here is that the app works. If being late is a problem for you, and you need to discretely alert someone that you're on your way, "Oops, I'm Late" will do it. If you're not prone to gridlock or procrastination, you can probably live without.

Or, you could just get your butt there on time.

More →
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...
-
loading...

Pages