We covered closure of Yahoo Briefcase earlier on this blog. Well, that was not the last service to close down by Yahoo. Today I got an email to let me know that Yahoo 360 is closing down in favor of Yahoo Profiles. Following is the email:
I was really excited to see U-Track maps‘ availability on Ufone‘s website. According to my earlier post, the usage charges are very high but I was still interested to check it out at least. As promised, here I come with a review of the solution.
U-Track maps is an XHTML based mobile website. I was expecting it to be an installable application. Anyways, before I go in details of the application features, I must tell you that if you try using the solution, you will, almost instantly notice that its an integration with Naqsha.net. Well, Naqsha.net is one of the serious efforts done so far in navigation domain in Pakistan, but I must say, things are pretty pre-mature right now and Naqsha.net. Moreover, integrating with U-fone, they have tried to increaset there user base significantly, which is a good sign. On the other hand, they have not anticipated such big traffic loads, especially during the first few day’s free trial time and their site seems broken at several points (see below).
As soon as I got a Ufone connection, I dived in and launched the device browser. The first link on ufone’s mobile site http://wap.ufone.com was U-track maps.
I typed a search string and and well, quite a long list of related items came up. I selected one of the item and I could see its location on somewhat nastily orange-themed rip-off from Google maps images. That’s it! You cant do much more than that.
The map that shows up, is well, kind of detailed but its in small size, its irritating orange and green colored, road and place names are hardly readable and until you know the city well you cant figure out much from this map. That really kills the need of navigation anyways. I could see three options under the map, 1) View Larger Image, 2) Make a route and 3) Search nearby, but all 3 of the links were broken (actually application crashed or something, was that because of the heavy traffic load?). See video for details.
U-Track Map, Walk-Through
Following is the feature list and comments for each feature:
Web-based mobile application/web-site. I expected it to be a GPS-enabled or at least location aware installable application.
Search results are quite detailed ( the list is usually long) but they are irrelevant to your current location. In addition, only names of the search results are listed, no additional information like phone numbers, web links, email address, nothing! You can select a location and can view it on map.
View on Map
You can select one item from the search results and can view it on map. The site shows an image showing a street map with a marker showing the destination. If you select a road to be shown on map, it shows two markers named Start and End.
View larger map image
When viewing a map, you may want to see a detailed map. This feature is available but the link broken. (See video)
Make a route
This was the only exciting feature for me but unfortunately, this link was broken as well
Link broken again (See video)
In short, the solution is a total-disappointment. Most of the features are not working, but even if all its features start working, it is no-where near its available competitions. I will soon write a post about its competitors.
- The application is browser based, so the number of supported handsets is very large.
- A lot of places have been listed and are available for search, thanks to Naqsha.net
- There is no way you can search near your current location, no self-location detection mechanism utilized (GPS or Cell tower location)
- No details, phone numbers, email , web-link or photo etc. available for the public locations/businesses available in the search.
- The names of the roads, places and locations are hardly readable on the map.
- Orange color dominance on the map (just because of Ufone color) is really irritating.
- No voice support (obviously being a web page) for people using it as in-car navigation system.
- Too costly as discussed in my last post
- Make-a-route option to your searched destination, the link is broken.
- View large map, link broken
- Search-nearby, link broken
I will soon write a detailed post on U-track map’s available competitions. Stay tuned!
Ufone has jumped into the location based services with their navigation system named UTrack Maps. This is a welcome addition to the available location based services in the local market. This launch is pretty much in time because other mobile based navigation services, in which Google Maps is one of the popular ones, are still in their infancy and Ufone has a chance to take over the market. From its description, it looks like a wap-only solution, though I yet have to try out the system. If you get a chance to try it out, do give us your feedback.
The main features of the service as described by the service web-site are:
- Locate a position (Point of interest) on map.
- Radius search (Search nearby)
- Routing and Distance
Please note, that routing and distance services (point 3 above) is not part of the Google-Maps-Mobile’s local offerings as yet which can be Ufone’s unique selling point here. On the other hand, the use of this service will be very heavy on the user’s pocket. As opposed to Google-Maps-Mobile’s free search and location information, Ufone will charge you Re. 1 to view a location on map, Rs. 2 to view a route, Rs. 1 for searching for a location nearby and if you want to view a large image that will again charge you Re. 1. Standard GPRS charges will also apply in addition to all above. This is really expensive, is’nt it?
I will try out the service and will possibly post a review.
I just came across this site, Starz.pk. The site is a local business listings site and I was astonished to see the number and details of entries available on this website. The site has listings for 26 possible cities of Pakistan. You can search a wide range of business listings and I must say, the people maintaining this site have done a nice job. I tried several searches in Lahore and always ended up with a relevent list of results. Some of the searches I tried on the site were printing, kabab, fish, books, stationers, dentist, vegetable, sabzi, chinese, dvd, cinema, cricket, software house, milk shop and even tyre shop. Wow, I do get results, may be not very close to my current location, but still, most of them make sense.
I remember Osama’s earleir post on Green & White, that talked about Zong’s advertisement campaign that used a stock image that was already used for a book’s cover. Well, that could be shortage of time and resources and somebody at Zong marketing department went to istockphotos and bought an image for the campaign (I hope they bought it).
Two more simple but useful add-ons to google maps + latitude are available now. Google latitude allows its users to share their current location from their mobile devices with his/her friends. So far, it was only possible to share your location with other latitude users. Latitude has gone beyond that point now.
Early this week, new version of BlackBerry Facebook Application v 126.96.36.199 has been released. The application has the same interface as the previous version but I’m happy to see a few pleasent changes. The new features include: