Having released Google Buzz a few days ago and seen the iPhone and Android interfaces which took the GMail-centric UI and simply ported it across to mobile, I was looking for similar integration with my Nokia E71 (S60) device.
I very quickly realised that there wasn’t a new version of the GMail application, but there was a new version of Google Maps. This new version of Google Maps has integration with Google Buzz in the form of a Layer. Once turned on, this layer puts speech bubbles anywhere Buzz has been made. Add to this the fact that Buzz can be associated with places and businesses, this gives an excellent way to provide tips for people to find when they’re travelling.
I have to wonder, with Jyri Engeström having worked on features within Google Buzz, whether this is trying to, in any way build on the concept of the original Jaiku service (not the newer JaikuEngine-based service), where multiple feeds are taken into a single activity stream with location attached. One of my personal main use-cases of Jaiku was for travelling, so I could find people in the area to go for a drink with, and I have been lucky enough to get to know several people from around Finland because of it.
I’ve put some screenshots of how I used it on a night in the pub on Saturday.
I don’t know how I missed it, but within Google Latitude there are now options for sharing your location with others. Just go to the Google Latitude Applications page and enable the options that suit you. There’s an option to allow your IM contacts to see your location within GTalk (Jabber), and there are also options to get alerts from friends when you’re close, but away from your ‘usual locations’.
One of the more interesting features is the Public Location Badge. Although a possible privacy nightmare, having access to your location in KML and JSON format means that developers can start to utilise location without having develop individual mobile clients that use the GPS. Personally I would like to see the WordPress GeoRSS plugin use it to suggest my location when writing these posts.
I think there’s an additional corner which could be cut if we really opened up, by using the location information stored within the mobile operator’s network to give a rough location, without even having to run an application on the phone at all. This might sound closer to a 1984 scenario than anything before it, but the possibilities of knitting services tightly around the location of it’s users would be an incredibly valuable prospect.
Google Latitude allows users to share their location with their friends using their mobiles. Powered by Google Maps, Latitude uses the same ‘My Location’ mechanism, so it will show your location to the nearest mile if it can’t get an accurate fix from the device’s GPS. This also means that Latitude should be able to be used on devices which don’t have in-built GPS, which lowers the barrier to entry for many potential users.
Users can also add an iGoogle widget, which gives the same ‘tracking’ ability directly from the iGoogle homepage.
Quite a while ago, Nokia created Friend View, a very similar application, but focusing on support Nokia devices. Google’s attempt covers a whole range of devices including S60, Android (of course) and will soon support iPhone, which is sure to raise the profile of the new service above Friend View.
If you have a barcode reader on your phone, you can use the code below to download the application.
The latest enhancement to Google Maps Mobile allows people that don’t have a GPS enabled phone to get approximate location (within 1km) using mobile operator cell locations.
This is a good enhancement, similar to the Network-based and AGPS feature in new S60-based phones and also the offerings from Navizon. The questionable thing here though is, what cell location data is Google using to estimate this? Nokia and Navizon have started their own databases (Navizon includes both Mobile Cells and WiFi APs)… is Google starting another? What are the chances of standardising and creating an ‘open location database’?
(brought to my attention through Lifehacker)