Mobile GPS integration to web

I’ve been toying around with a Bluetooth GPS and Nokia N95’s built in GPS for a while. I’ve been surprised by how bad and/or expensive most of the available software is for GPS use. The trend seems to be that software is either

  1. Cheap or free but doesn’t include any maps. If converting map data to the software actually works, the software is buggy, lacks features and tends to crash.
  2. Expensive and doesn’t have detailed maps available

For map vendors, the amount of money charged for useful maps is just ridiculous from consumer perspective and I’m sure it’s slowing down the adoption of location based services.

Nokia’s Maps software is nice but frankly I’d like a lot more detail to the maps in rural areas. I’ve checked the maps a couple times when I’ve been somewhere in the wilderness and the maps are next to useless outside the city. Making the algorithm the chooses how much detail is shown at the different zoom levels smarter would improve the usefulness of the software immensely.

On the hardware side, the external Bluetooth GPS with SIRFstar 3 chipset is very accurate and fast. The battery capacity could use an improvement – I’d expect at least 15 hours of use with one charge. The GPS inside the N95 on the other hand seems to be next to useless. The Time to First Fix takes so long that it seems to me the GPS always does a Factory fix. I’ve only managed to get my location on the device a couple times and it’s taken up to fifteen minutes for the phone to find the location under an open sky.

One surprise I’ve had is that the Bluetooth GPS only allows one software to connect to it at the same time. This imposes severe limitations on what can be done with the GPS – for example I can’t record my track while at the same time using a mapping application for navigation. Obviously this would be solved by having both features in the same app but sadly I have no software where both features work to the level I’d like them to. Apparently if all the software used Nokia’s Location API, that’d solve the problem but unfortunately there’s no third party software that supports using the API yet.

But here’s the reason for this post: I’ve been trying to look for a piece of software that’d read the coordinates off from the GPS and send them to a web page using a GET parameter with the phone’s built in browser. Mystically, an application that does this doesn’t seem to exist!

Such an app would allow me to send my location to any web application in world. I already have one small app waiting for this to happen and I can see myself creating a small app to “bookmark” locations when I have this capability. I’ve already sent this idea to a number of people developing GPS apps for series 60 and the general response has been that the developer doesn’t get what I’m driving at…

Anyway, if you develop stuff compatible with Series 60 Symbian v3 phones and know something about GPS’s, please create this application. Feature spec here:

  1. Allow user to store POIs based on the current location
  2. Allow user to add a list of named URLs
  3. Allow user to send the coordinates of the current location or a stored POI (with POI name, if one exists) to one of the stored URLs, using two GET parameters, “lat” and “long”
  4. In case of N95, please make the app use the official Nokia Location API instead of blindly requiring the use of Bluetooth

That’s all, thanks. :D

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