Archive for the ‘google’ Category

Location based services for mobiles

Friday, January 8th, 2010

Location based services have been around for a number of years in the research community. They were always fun to build and excellent research vehicles but needed something to change before hitting the streets. Well, now we’re beginning to carry GPS enabled devices these services have hit the mainstream. I regularly use Yelp and Around Me on the iPhone to find local restaurants, gas stations, and coffee shops. The integration with the maps application is a fantastic coupling. Now Google have released their search services with the “Near me now” service (iPhone and Andriod in US only).

Location data for these applications is usually derived from GPS readings but it is not limited to that. You can use wifi spotting, video capture, parse user calendars or discover location by inference (I am near Alice and Alice knows where she is so I can find where I am). But in practice are these other inputs really required? Or are they all part of a larger model of the real world?

Location based services are a manifestation of pervasive computing in the real world. Next will come more complex context aware services with social aspects and recommendations. I’ve oft heard the question “who will pay for the infrastructure for pervasive computing?”. I think the answer is still “we will” but now you can add “and already are”.

Google Wave

Monday, October 12th, 2009

So I’ve been playing with Google Wave for the last couple of days and I’m still not sold on it. Perhaps because of all the hype, and hyperbole descriptions that say things like Wave is what we’d have “if email was created today”.

When you first log in to Wave you’re presented with a set of panels. These are for navigating through your folders, selecting contacts and participating in Wave conversations. Waves are a mix between email and IM. You can edit/add comments to any section of the conversation and these appear in real-time to other online participants. This Techcrunch article sums up the abstract concepts nicely by grouping e-comms mechanisms as passive-aggressive.

The Wave team have integrated a widget model (like those on iGoogle home pages) to allow programmers to extend the environment. Of particular note is the Ribbit teleconferencing application that makes use of this API. It allows you to jump out of written Waves and into a phone conference call. I’m less excited about the Sudoku app.

To get going I created a Wave to discuss Wave with my friends and colleagues who are also beta testers. So far the poll I posed has 4 votes for unimpressed and zero for impressed. Since Google are performing a slow roll out of Wave it looks like they’re testing the water to see how people use it. The ingenuity of the online world can often produce some unexpected uses of new technologies. I’ll be interested to see what happens with this one.