Highway traffic map for cellphones
... and thoughts on wiring cellphone services to the browser.
I don't use my cellphone very much, but since I was offered a new Samsumg A-920 phone from Sprint (with some free services) as part of their Ambassador program, I've explored some web services that work on cellphones.
I'd like to share some of those experiences and some ideas and wishes about how the mobile experience could be improved by linking the cellphone information to a browser (on a PC).
We first looked at movie listings and showtimes. The service provided on the cellphone's portal page did a decent job. My wife especially liked the area auto-detection ("find nearby theaters"), although it was pretty slow.
The second thing we tried to get was traffic information, one day when we were stuck in traffic and wanted to know how much of a jam we were in. This turned out to be much harder than we expected.
Getting back home, I looked for a better solution, using a more comfortable interface (PC browser), and found some WAP traffic maps, which are offered as free public service by Wiresoft.
Although I was happy to have found this service, having to type the url (http://www.wiresoft.net/traffic/seattle/big/) for the Seattle maps into the cellphone was most tedious.
It would be great if there was a better integration between my home browser and my cellphone, where I could click on a special link in a webpage and the link for that cellphone-ready web service would be added to my cellphone.
I'm not talking about transfering this data from my PC to my cellphone with a cable, but rather modifying some online storage.
The Wiresoft HTML page would include a special link that would be "wired" to a service hosted by my cellphone provider. Clicking the link would tell the service that I want to add the Wiresoft WML page to my cellphone portal page, for example.
Another, slightly more advanced, scenario would be for getting bus information. I should be able to pre-configure the routes and stops that I care about, from a PC, to simplify the mobile experience.
Technically, this requires some kind of identifier to be shared between the PC and the cellphone. Do cellphones have unique identifiers, like MAC addresses or Intel chip IDs?
Update (2006/08/04): I've been using Google Mobile Maps for a week and it's quite powerful. Unlike the regular web version for desktops, it requires an install (simple and quick). The map viewing capabilities are similar to the web version (you can zoom and pan, the map chunks are loaded as you go). You can switch to the satellite view. Overall the application is impressive and feels fast and responsive, with rather short loading times.
To toggle the traffic overlay, you can press '#' (pound) or use an option from the menu. For some reason, the traffic information was not always accurate (the highway looked jammed to me, but the map showed a green segment).
I haven't used the search features too much, but I'm assuming that's where the money is: businesses can pay to get listed in the local results.