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S60 knows where you're at

Location-aware alarm-app for the chronically lost

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

A new application for S60 phones opens the possibility of making every application location-aware, in a very primitive form, and promises to demonstrate the potential of today's GPS-enabled devices.

Satellite navigation in a phone is a very nice thing to have, if you get lost a lot, but other than finding your way around and locating the nearest Starbucks (try looking behind you) the more interesting uses of GPS have, so far, largely failed to materialise. This new app from Symbian Guru, called GPS Action, aims to provide a first step in exploiting that potential by triggering alarms, web pages, or applications automatically when the user enters pre-defined areas.

It's hard to imagine when one might want an alarm to notify arrival at a specific place - one is usually already aware of such a thing. Perhaps a very bad curry house might warrant an audible alert to prevent drunken repetition of a bad meal, but other than that the ability to sound an alarm seems redundant. Slightly more useful is the ability to change profiles, so your work profile is automatically activated on arrival at the office, with work calls being automatically routed to voicemail while you're at home.

GPS Action can also change the active Bluetooth profile, which has some potential for those who don't want their handset to respond to Bluetooth approaches from fellow commuters, but would like to advertise their availability to colleagues at work.

More interesting is the ability to automatically launch an application on arrival at a destination - in a quick test we managed to trigger a home-stereo remote control application to automatically start playing music when we walked into the house, much to the annoyance of everyone else there.

GPS Action isn't limited to using satellite navigation technology; it will happily trigger applications or alarms based on proximity of a particular combination of base stations. That can prove a useful adjunct for when there aren't any satellites within easy reach, or for devices that have trouble reaching them without bleeding the battery dry.

Quite what GPS Action is for, though, still isn't clear - the publishers have no better idea than anyone else how exactly location information is going to be used in the future. But for anyone owning a S60 device the ten-day trial is a useful demonstration in the uselessness of knowing exactly where you are - unless you have the killer application your GPS-enabled mobile is looking for. ®

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