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Google Local Goes Mobile 98

bigtallmofo writes "Google has added a mobile version of their local-search service to their lineup of mobile applications available from devices equipped with XHTML-enabled browsers. Previously available mobile Google applications include their mobile web and image search and their SMS service (beta) that allows users to enter their search queries and receive results via a text message. The day of receiving unsolicited coupons for your next latte as you walk by a Starbucks is one step closer."
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Google Local Goes Mobile

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  • Useful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stormcrow309 ( 590240 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @09:57AM (#12211295) Journal

    For those of us that travel a lot to disparate locations for our jobs, this is useful. I could goto Chicago and find the House of Blues as a nightclub or the Scotch and Cigar Bar at Palmer house. Converting this to use on a mobile just makes sense.

    • Re:Useful (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 )
      Even people on vacation with the family and kids could use this. Need to find a gas station, Burger King, or even quickie mart on the road? Just use Google Local. Now if you could get it to work with your Treo and a GPS that would be cool.
    • yes and no. Unless google promises that they will NEVER EVER sell or use your sms address for anytihng but your requests then I'll agree to use it. also phone companies here in the US need to get a clue and make SMS a unlimited service. paying per message sucks, and I pity the fools that sms to get ringtones or java games, they end up havingto turn off their sms service because of the flood of spam they get..... yes I have first hand knowlege of this, my daughter did that from those damned commercials a
    • The SMS service [] is infinitely more useful than you can imagine. You can bring up "Pizza", "Computer", in a zipcode; movie showtimes; Froogle prices; stock quotes; word definitions; directions; the capital of North Korea...

      I've been using it for months and shocking people with the things I "know".
    • Combined with Maps, it is a powerful tool. I've already used it to organize a pubcrawl in Brooklyn. Pretty darn accurate. Although a few things here and there don't show up in the local search.
  • Hmmm, (Score:1, Interesting)

    by rayray14 ( 591465 )
    I just tried to look for something and it gave me a parsing error: XML Parsing Error: not well-formed Location: C+on&site=local&hl=en&lr=&ie=ISO-8859-1&btnG=Googl e+Search Line Number 2, Column 5693:
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anethema ( 99553 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @09:59AM (#12211306) Homepage
    The day of receiving unsolicited coupons for your next latte as you walk by a Starbucks is one step closer.

    What kind of crap is that?

    How does google making a search page make this any closer? Especially when google is well known for their unobtrusive ads. Maybe a small ad WHEN you search but just walking by some place?

    SMS and web browsing on your phone already exist. Google releasing a local search (which is sweet when used with google maps BTW) isnt going to start the spamming of your cellphone.

    I suppose I have been trolled, since that sentance couldn't have been meant as much else.
    • No doubt the post is referring to the beta release of the Google Googles, which will track which retailers you look at as you walk down the street, and stimulate your brain with ultrasound to make you want an very expensive cup of interactive, localized coffee.

      Really, as an amateur cultural anthroplogist, I've found the slashdot editorial drift from Google = Cool to Google = Big Corporate Search Stooge to be really something to watch.
    • The day of receiving unsolicited coupons for your next latte as you walk by a Starbucks is one step closer.

      One of my favorite quotes from joel on software []: "It solves the one problem that coffee shops DON'T have, namely, advertising to peoplewho are standing right in front of the store!"
  • Dang, it's tiny! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Cowdog ( 154277 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @09:59AM (#12211311) Journal
    The map is tiny on my Treo. It's surrounded by a huge amount of white space. I wish there was an option to have a larger map. Zooming in doesn't help.
    • and the map could stand to about double its size.

      I wish it could save a list of frequently used addresses for driving directions like yahoo does. It's painful keying them in with t9
    • Are you running the "Optimized view?" try resetting it so it doesn't try and fit it to the screen.. just a thought I haven't tried this on my Treo yet either, but damn yeah it's about time. Now if only Rogers in Canada would lift the 3mb limit / prices so I don't have to panic when i see the counter rise for traffic.
  • by millwall ( 622730 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @10:00AM (#12211316)
    It's a pity that most 3G phones that are offered these days (at least in the UK) are restricting surfing to the service provider's homepage.

    Sounds really lame, and it definitely is. So even if I've got a great 3G phone with browsing capabilities, I can't access the Google Local Mobile page because my service provider limits my usage to its own pay-services.

    I hope to see a change in this area. Monopoly is never good, and imagine only being able to surf on one site where your service provider sets the rules.
    • It's a pity that most 3G phones that are offered these days (at least in the UK) are restricting surfing to the service provider's homepage.

      Are you sure about that? Last time I had internet on my phone, the home page did take me to my provider's homepage. *However*, there was also an obscure menu item (called "Location", I think) that allowed me to type in a web address. It was a pain in the ass to type in, but it did work.

      In any case, this is an SMS service, not a WAP service. Unless your provider only
    • No such restriction on Vodafone. I think it's only 3 that does that.
    • It's a pity that most 3G phones that are offered these days (at least in the UK) are restricting surfing to the service provider's homepage.

      Not quite. Most (if not all, I don't know) phones on the 3 network restrict you to their own walled garden.

      However, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Orange networks give you access to the whole internet. I don't know about O2 but I'm sure someone else can confirm what the status with them is.

      Given this, the fact they have less base stations than T-Mobile and the switch from

  • by NardofDoom ( 821951 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @10:01AM (#12211323)
    Between the inadequate text entry on my T610 and the godawful connection speed (GPRS sucks. Thanks cell phone companies!) and tiny screen, I'll just find an open wireless access point and use Google from my laptop.
    • the godawful connection speed (GPRS sucks. Thanks cell phone companies!) I'll just find an open wireless access point and use Google from my laptop.

      GPRS isn't *that* slow. Google is quite responsive (one of the faster sites out there while on GPRS) and I actually find myself using my hiptop [] more than my laptop. Something that fits in my pocket is a lot easier to do a quick Google search on than locating an access point, booting up/waking up the laptop, doing the search, and then shutting down/putting to
      • I get about 16kbps when I connect to the Internet from my Powerbook over Bluetooth. And that's with perfect reception. Way, way, way to slow.

        And the click-click-click, wait-wait-wait, damn-now-text-entry-mode-is-it-in, click, wait-wait-wait is usually a lot longer than it takes me to find an open access point.

        Though I'm sure if I had an honest-to-goodness keyboard instead of twelve teeny buttons with teenier letters it would make things a little easier. But not faster.

  • by Poromenos1 ( 830658 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @10:03AM (#12211345) Homepage
    Why is it that whenever there's a post about Google everyone keeps looking for flaws that will make them "the next Microsoft"? I'm not referring to the article mention of ads, but whenever we hear something "corporationy" about Google, we always go "ooo, there we go, EEEEVIL". I'm not saying they're saints, but yeah, I get all that free high-quality stuff from Google and I like them. When (if) they start doing evil things, then I'll see about blaming them.
  • I hope... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kdougherty ( 772195 )
    ... that you have a good text message plan, because personally I don't see the benefit on searching via my cell phone just to be charged $.10 for information. Especially since the text message has to be 160 characters or shorter. I'll get 100 replies and only 3 of them may be relevant costing me more than it would be to just drive to a public terminal. But hey... Who's keeping count? :)
    • Re:I hope... (Score:3, Informative)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) *
      ... that you have a good text message plan, because personally I don't see the benefit on searching via my cell phone just to be charged $.10 for information. Especially since the text message has to be 160 characters or shorter. I'll get 100 replies and only 3 of them may be relevant costing me more than it would be to just drive to a public terminal.

      I don't know about all cell phone plans but most of the ones I have been under have free *in bound* SMS. So it's really irrelevant how many relevant repli
  • New name? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Reignking ( 832642 )
    I thought that new mobile content had to have stupid names, ala mobisodes? Shouldn't this be GooLocMob, or MobLocGoog, or GoogLocMob?
  • mmmmmm.. Latte (Score:1, Insightful)

    by nabil_IQ ( 733734 )
    The day of receiving unsolicited coupons for your next latte as you walk by a Starbucks is one step closer.

    and the day of me not minding a latte as I walk by a Starbucks is here!
  • This is the one Google service that has not worked well for me. I was trying what I thought would be some simple searches - e.g.
    • While visiting another city's downtown - bar
    • My own city - beer
    • Hoping to find an archery range - archery

    There were some others that returned poor results also - To be fair, I think pub worked well, but only showed places that actually had pub in the name. The sad thing is, this is definately a service that the business owners want to have work well, not just end users like m

    • Unfortunately, Google Local sucks when compared with Yahoo! Yellow Pages [] because Google didn't bother to license any real Yellow Pages data. They instead rely on web pages to provide info. As a result, my company shows up with two addresses and the "more relevant" one is incorrect!

      It's also useless for searching for most businesses. "Supermarket near X" just shows businesses near X with the word "Supermarket" in the name. Other keywords like "Chinese food" or "Pizza" neglect restaurants that simply nam
      • If you have a Palm handheld, you might want to give Earthcomber [] a try. (I'm one of the engineers there). We've built software and service similar to what you describe here.

        We maintain a database of locations labelled by keywords. As a user, you can create search lists containing the keywords you want to find. Then the software looks for every place nearby which is labelled by a keyword in your active search list. Simple. The keywords attached to locations are picked by the proprietors themselves, so as
  • Non-Americans? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @10:18AM (#12211443)
    Whilst I have no doubt that this is a very nice, it would be interesting to know if Google plan on extending any of their newer services to people who don't live in the USA (eg. a rollout to the United Kingdom would be a nice next step).

    Does anyone have any information? Or are we going to frequently see cool new Google stuff which we can't really use to the fullest?

    (If they have no plans, it might be nice for Slashdot to drop the practially dead Apache section and change this to Google so at least us non-Americans can filter it out).

    • I typed in "Pizza" for my postal code, B2W 2X6, and tada! a list of the closest pizza shops. I know a few directory providers won't be too happy about this.

      As soon as their underlying mapping system has data for the UK, the mobile edition should follow shortly.
    • Google has said all along it will be released when they have all the data. That type of data entry and coding takes time. Otherwise we'd have the Debian of websites: no new features for anyone until they work on the whole planet!
    • Just read this article [] confirming that a UK rollout is planned.
    • Hey, if you want this service, you can come live her and pay American taxes to support our new Google overlords.


  • Don't worry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brontus3927 ( 865730 ) <> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @10:24AM (#12211493) Homepage Journal
    The day of receiving unsolicited coupons for your next latte as you walk by a Starbucks is one step closer.

    Ughhh. How? The Google SMS is a service where YOU request information, and Google provides information. It's a "dumb service" Google doesn't know any more about where you are than what you tell them. If your sitting in Philadelphia and do a Googble Mobile Local search for Thai in Vegas, Google will think your in Vegas and have no clue your in Philly.

    Even if a next generation of this service was "smart" and used the GPS on your phone to know where you are, there's an accuracy limit of ~150 feet, IIRC. If your in Time Square in NYC, do you have any idea how many retail businesses are within 50 yards of you? It would overwhelm users who would complain in huge numbers and it would be dropped. Despite all the grassroots FUD on this issue, it's not going to happen. To get 10 foot resolution, you need to triangulate with 12 GPS satellites. To have any chance at getting line of sight with 12 satellites, you need to be a pretty open area. GPS tracking in urban areas is always going to be pretty useless

    • GSM networks know approximately where you are. See for instance Nokia's solution [] which:

      increase revenues further and maintain ARPU[1] growth.

      [1] Average Revenue Per User
    • In fact, you don't need GPS. If you are in a city and use a cell phone, your operator can track you. First, a mobile phone can be located based on which cell is in. In a city, cells are small (micro/picocells), so you can at least know in which part of a city a person is. The fact is that cell phones also monitor adjacent base stations, so the operator also knows how much power you are receiving form base station A, B, C, etc... Some simple triangulation can do the trick, but you can get at least an estima
  • by IAmTheDave ( 746256 ) <> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @10:27AM (#12211515) Homepage Journal
    I've gotta tell you - on my nokia 8300 series phone, web works fine, but text messaging is way easier. Finding addresses and phone numbers is awesome. It takes less time to type:
    ikea philadelphia pa
    pizza princeton nj
    and text it to 46645 then it is to boot the browser, wait for the rediculously slow dl times, and then type in my search in two separate text boxes. usually the text message back with search results is also faster than results on my onboard web browser.

    google text messaging rules! i use it all the time and wish i could thank them for all the time they've saved me.
    • I agree. I'm considering discontinuing my tmobile web service because it's just not worth it. It takes way too long to create a GPRS connection and in the meantime I have to sit there waiting for a response.

      With google text messaging, however, I can fire off the request and keep walking, and get a nice little buzz in my pocket indicating some search results. With most cell phone plans it's much more practical to upgrade the text messaging plan than to add on an internet plan.

  • It appears that US Cellular users cannot use this Google service, as USC does not support 'short codes', but instead requires 10 digit numbers.
  • You are silly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jane Hackworth ( 872492 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @10:28AM (#12211532)
    All this means is that mobile users can access Google Local results. Users have to enter their selected location, just like they do for "regular" Google Local. Google's not figuring out the location by pinpointing the mobile user. If Google did get into targeted ads, I see no reason why they'd abandon their practice of doing so in a tasteful, optional way.
  • Imagine if Google actually implemented gmaps and Google local on their mobile site. You could get directions on the road, figure out where you are and plot your course from there. Google maps + mobile compatability = alternative to personal GPS device.

    Now imagive if Google also implemented Google Local. You would NEVER have to ask for directions anywhere again. That is, until you hit a dead spot for your cell phone carrier.
  • well with the ridiculous price of Starbuck lattes, an unsolicited coupon sounds pretty good to me...hopefully it will be 1/2 off!

    Really, tho, Google has been a good steward of online restraint. I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt and we should applaud whatever efforts they are making into mobile space.
  • Sweet! I just signed up w/ Verizon and my mins are gonna be goin to waste unless I find more stuff to do w/ mobile web.
  • I'm against using mobile web features until they can get the pricing to a reasonable amount. I'm on Rogers in Canada and they charge $3 for 250KB of data, $7 for 1MB, and $12 for 2MB. On my first month of using their mobile internet plan, I went a little crazy downloading games. I probably downloaded about 10-15 games off of the net. Most of the games didn't even work on my phone. By the end of the month I had racked up $60 in mobile charges. That's insane! Now I understand why it costs more than regular
    • You are paying too much. I have Bell, and I pay $5 for unlimited web access.
      • Hmmm just read up on that. Sounds awesome! However it says only 1X phones get unlimited and regular Digital Phones get 100 minutes for $5. I guess most new phones would be 1X...
  • Can't wait to get home to try on my IPAQ 4150/802.11b. Format looks like it will fit that screen nicely. Thanks again, Google!

    I made a conscious decision to get separate cell phone and PDA when I returned from overseas. I wanted my cell phone to be small enough to slip in my pocket, and having a screen big enough for WWW didn't allow that. This "Grand Unified Gadget Theory" leaves me nonplussed.

  • I started a project to have a rich client for Google Maps that blows this away:

    You get a full scrollable map, way better view of the search results and a map that's actually 240x160 and you can scroll for infinity.

    Most full maps take less than 5 seconds to come down and you get full integration with your addressbook etc..

    You'll need a developer key and unlocked device to get it for now, but as I said, this blows away any other mapping software I've seen on any other phone.

  • I, for one, welcome our new benevolent information-providing overlords.
  • First it was Google SMS... 66707/ []

    Then it was Google Maps... 9&cid=11626545/ []

    And now this! I just want some friggin' pizza!

  • finally! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eries ( 71365 ) <slashdot-eric@sn ... minus physicist> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @02:25PM (#12214668) Homepage
    This is really handy, especially for on-the-road driving directions. But when will they incorporate vCard download []?

    Kudos to the Local team, this is a big improvement.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @03:21PM (#12215403)
    I used the service with a Palm Tungsten T3 through a Nokia 6310i via Cingular.

    Short version:
    Works great. Wish I had it years ago.
    The maps need to be larger to be useful on a 320x400 screen.
    The layout of the page could be optimized a bit. The Google logo at the top pushes data too far down. Google should either shrink the logo or relocate it.

    Long version:
    I've been looking for a service like this for a long time. I tried Avantgo [] for a while but it was cumbersome, and of limited use if you needed to find info on the fly. MapQuest [] allows you to download maps and directions using Avantgo but it doesn't work as well as Google Local.

    I've alread mentioned my main criticisms of Google Local. It gives a map but seems targeted at 160x160 screens. (understandably) A larger map option would be nice as the maps are a little small to be genuinely useful IMO. You can zoom in/out and scroll around via buttons. Not as smooth as the regular Google Maps but perfectly adequate for on the road. Driving directions are always available and work great. Once you've located what you are looking for you simply select driving directions and enter your From: address. Simple and logical and it works pretty much exactly as you expect it to.

    Speed of the service is fine. I have a GPRS connection (not EDGE) which isn't speedy but download speeds were satisfactory. If you have a Treo or a Tungsten type device (like me) you should have no trouble finding regular uses for the service.

  • SMSTerm allows you to run a terminal over SSH. I wrote it to monitor servers from class. Its old, but still works. I use ICQ's SMS gateway. Get it at []

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.