Saturday, May 5, 2007

Traffic Mapping For Your Mobile Phone

Traffic Mapping For Your Mobile Phone
by: Madison Lockwood

In late July, Google announced that it will be offering live traffic information to mobile phones in more than thirty U.S. cities. Plans to provide the traffic feature to PCs are still in the works. The Google traffic feature will be released as an update to the free Google Maps for Mobile service, which has been available for 18 months for download on the Google web site. Google would not disclose how many subscribers it has, but it says the number is growing rapidly.

The feature expands Google's mapping technology into an area where Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo already have a presence, but in different ways. Yahoo and Microsoft offer real-time traffic information on their Web-based mapping services for PCs. Microsoft has chosen to move into the mobile “space” by licensing traffic-monitoring technology for mobile devices to a Kirkland-based startup, InRix Inc. Yahoo currently has no mobile traffic service. MapQuest, an AOL property, offers traffic reports over cell phones for $2.99 per month.

With typical bombast, Microsoft announced that when operable, the InRix mobile service will actually predict upcoming traffic problems – however currently the MSN mobile mapping technology provides no traffic information at all.

In the cities where it works, the Google feature will show traffic conditions on most major highways - indicating green for clear roadways, yellow for medium congestion and red for high congestion or stopped traffic. Google Maps will work on most Java-enabled phones offered by Cingular and Sprint and all color BlackBerry devices. The service does not currently work on phones from other major carriers such as Verizon or T-Mobile USA. Google Maps sends the data – obtained from an undisclosed source - every five minutes.

Although Google's free service doesn't identify traffic hazards or accidents, it will let drivers know if there is a clogged road. Google also shows the expected drive time for a route when phone users search for driving directions. It has introduced a feature that lets users save their favorite locations and frequently used driving directions for future use.

The three search engines are not alone, however. In February, Rand McNally Traffic began offering a downloadable mobile application that delivers news of real-time traffic flow, accidents, weather conditions and road closures to 94 cities. Rand McNally Traffic is available on Sprint, Nextel, AT&T Wireless and other services for $3.99 a month.

Media giant Clear Channel Communications' Total Traffic Network feeds content in 125 markets in the country to 15 services. One of them provides the information to subscribers with Sprint mobile phones for a $9.99 monthly subscription. That service is relatively new. In addition to weather conditions and traffic information, the service also provides data on gas station prices.

Cell phones are rapidly turning into GPS devices, with localized information as an added feature. It remains to be seen how many people will turn to their cell phone screens for traffic news, one eye on the road and another on the phone. In some states and several local jurisdictions, it is already illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving. Some of these jurisdictions allow hands free use, but that won’t help with a visual feature. It will be interesting to see if this new functionality is limited by governmental concern over safe driving habits.

About The Author
Madison Lockwood is a customer relations associate for Apollo Hosting. She helps clients understand how a website may benefit them both personally and professionally. Apollo Hosting provides website hosting, ecommerce hosting, & VPS hosting to a wide range of customers.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Find Yourself With Your Cell Phone

Find Yourself With Your Cell Phone
by: Madison Lockwood

A few years ago, the FCC mandated that cell phones have GPS capacity or some form of location mechanism so that the phone and its operator could be located in the case of a 911 call. The law took effect at the beginning of 2005. Today, over one hundred million cell phones in this country have a chip that provides GPS capacity and increasingly, software services are emerging that put them to use.

GPS stands for Global Positioning Software and it simply means that an equipped device can be located by the satellites overhead in geosynchronous orbit that are built to pick up GPS signals. While the cell phone companies initially were reluctant to participate, they have begun to develop subscription services that provide software to help you use the tracking system.

The GPS technology without bells and whistles simply pinpoints the location of your cell phone. A techie named Chuck Fletcher developed a freeware program called Mologogo that allows one Mologogo equipped phone to locate other, similarly equipped phones. It's become a method for a few thousand cell owners to keep track of each other, but hasn't moved much beyond that.

Verizon and Sprint have developed subscription services that will allow your phone to pinpoint your location, complete with overhead map. It's a mobile driving assistance tool that should enjoy some degree of popularity. The cell phone companies have been reticent to provide general access to the GPS feature in their phones, because it can be a sensitive privacy issue - especially if you're somewhere you're not supposed to be.

More to the point, however, is the fact that the cell operators see the GPS technology as a potential profit center. One way to get driving directions with a GPS cell phone is to subscribe to a GPS navigation service. Nextel offers two: Televigation's TeleNav and Motorola's ViaMoto. Using the GPS and Nextel's network, TeleNav and ViaMoto can send driving directions to a Nextel phone. If you make a wrong turn or miss a street, the service detects that you're off the route and new route is calculated to put you back on track.

Aside from the basic mapping and location support, if you're a Sprint-Nextel customer you can subscribe to a service called Smarter Agent. This GPS supported technology is tied to a real estate database and can provide you with information on home sales in the neighborhood where you and your cell phone happen to be located. It will identify which homes have sold in the neighborhood in the last few years, and for what price.

Verizon has a service called getGOING. You can download applications such as AtlasBook Places. With AtlasBook Places you can get maps and directions and navigate to nearby places. An option is a web-based planning tool. These functions are available on selected Verizon phones.

There's an inherent privacy issue here that is a challenge for the major cell providers. Sprint-Nextel is the only company that has always allowed access to the GPS chips in its handsets. They have a strict privacy agreement with any third party service providers such as Smart Agent. If you download software that is not provided through Nextel, however, you have no such guarantee of privacy. This issue, aside from dollar signs, is what has kept GPS functionality largely an in-house development of the cell phone companies.

About The Author
Madison Lockwood is a customer relations associate for Apollo Hosting. She helps clients understand how a website may benefit them both personally and professionally. Apollo Hosting provides website hosting, ecommerce hosting, & VPS hosting to a wide range of customers.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Mobile Phone Deals: Choose The Deal And Enjoy

Mobile Phone Deals: Choose The Deal And Enjoy
by: Carly Charu

One of the best ways to connect the world in the present time is through mobile phones. It has become the most important and essential gadget of this decade. Well, apart from the mobile phones, mobile phone deals are also important.Mobile phone deals are offered in the UK by different network service providers such as T-mobile, Three, Orange, O2, Virgin and Vodafone. All these network service providers offer mobile phone deals for consumers to have a cost-effective deal and services.

With the advancement in the mobile phone technology, mobile phone manufacturers are offering basic phones to latest mobile phones in the market. These mobile phones are endowed with camera, music player, Internet, office tools, and latest 3G technology for fast connectivity. These handsets include Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, etc. So, if you have a choice, you have different mobile phone deals available in the market. Choose the handset and the cost-effective deals exclusively for you.

Mobile phone deals include pay-as-you-go and contract mobile phones. In pay-as-you-go phone, you buy a phone and it is usually loaded with some amount. You cannot make a call if you don’t have sufficient balance. You need to purchase vouchers for adding credits. Other mobile services are also limited. On the other hand, in contract mobile phones, you will have to pay a fixed monthly line rental. There are many tariff plans under a particular deal, compare the plan and choose as per your requirement. A cost-effective deal and seamless connectivity must be the first priority for all the consumers. Contract mobile phone deals fulfil these entire requirements. First choose the handset and then look for the deals available for a particular handset. You may get free minutes, free texts, free line rental and free insurance as an incentive.

Don’t think twice, choose the mobile phone deals and get connected with the people and the world anytime-anywhere.

About The Author
Carly Charu is the webmaster of Mobile Rainbow specializing in Latest Mobile Phone Reviews and information.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

How To Find The Right International Cell Phone For You

How To Find The Right International Cell Phone For You
by: Michael Furniss

Having an international cell phone with you while traveling abroad can make things much easier — you can be instantly contactable, either with the folks back home, or to deal with your trip plans and reservations as you travel.

However, if you research on the Internet it can be a little overwhelming with the different options available.

In truth you really only have 3 main options with international cell phones, and the major factor that will affect your decision is whether you want the easiest and most convenient option, or the option that has the cheapest call rates, because you can only have one or the other.

1. Check if you can use your own cell phone

If you have the right type of cell phone, you may be able to use it when you travel abroad. If you are unsure then your carrier should be able to tell you. The advantage of taking your own cell phone is that you will keep your own number so it will be easy for friends to call you. However, using your own cell phone can be more expensive due to roaming charges (the extra charge added for routing the call abroad).

Conclusion — potentially this offers the greatest convenience but be prepared that your calls will cost you more. The most likely outcome will be that your carrier does not offer an international service, or if they do, you do not own the right type of handset.

2. Rent an international cell phone

If you cannot use your own cell phone abroad then you can rent an international cell phone that will work, just for the period of your trip. The cost of the calls will vary, depending on what type of SIM card the rental phone uses. If it uses a global SIM card then your calls will be higher priced, but if you are traveling to a number of countries you will keep the same number. If it uses a local SIM card your calls will be cheaper, but you will need a different local SIM card for each country you plan to visit.

Conclusion — rental sounds like a good idea, but you can now buy your own second cell phone, just for traveling, for the same price as one or two weeks' rental charges, so that might be a more cost efficient option for you.

3. Buy your own international cell phone

The cost to buy your own second cell phone, just for international travel, has now come within the reach of all travelers. As with renting an international cell phone, the cost of your calls will depend on what type of SIM card your phone uses. If you use a global SIM card, you will keep the same number in every country but your call charges will be a little higher. If you use local SIM cards you will get cheaper calls but have to buy a different one for each country you visit in the future — this can start to get expensive if you are a frequent traveler.

Conclusion — If you cannot use your own cell phone, buying a second one is generally more cost effective than renting every time. If you want a system that is easy to use then a global SIM card will be the best for you. If you bottom line is cheaper calls, and you are happy to put in a bit of effort to get them, then buy and phone and use local SIM cards (but don't overlook the cost to buy each individual SIM card when you do your price analysis).

About The Author
Michael Furniss is the copywriter and newsletter editor for Mobile Rental, home of the $49 Mobal World Phone, where he writes about tips and advice on all aspects of travel, including international cell phones.