What’s Your GPS Do?

Yesterday, I quipped:

Processing “I’m at the Green Dragon” is far easier than processing “I’m at 928 SE 9th Avenue, Portland, OR”. Unless you’re a GPS device. In which case, you and your friends should have no trouble finding each other.

And lo, today via Mashable, I read about Garmin and uLocate teaming up to link your GPS device with your social network. I guess the WHERE Buddy Beacon service by uLocate allows you to broadcast your location and find your friends. You can broadcast status and location to other WHERE-enabled networks, e.g. Facebook.

I’m a little jaded by all my devices trying to do everything. Seems like each device that you might possibly want to carry must do as many of the following as possible:

  1. Make phone calls
  2. Send SMS messages
  3. Surf the Intertubes
  4. Locate you via GPS or close-enough triangulation
  5. Broadcast your location
  6. Give you directions from point A to B
  7. Have some social network capabilities
  8. Play music and satellite radio
  9. Take pictures
  10. Store your contacts
  11. Store your calendar
  12. Keep you safe from harm

It sounds great at first blush. Why not centralize everything? But when you dig into the functionality, it just seems like too much. Can anyone point to a single device that does all the main functions really well.

Even the iPhone, IMHO, falls short at several of these. Yeah, it does a good enough job overall, but still, seems a bit feature heavy.

What do you think? Maybe I’m just an old school crank who doesn’t want new-fangled features on his phone. I don’t think that’s me, but maybe.

This started out as a post about location-based networking. It’s a super hot area and will continue to be as networks extend back into real life. Ironic that good old networking has become something that now frequently starts on the Intertubes, rather than IRL.

Location-based services have great potential, especially when applied to a network you trust. For me it’s a pain to use them though. This is why I like Fire Eagle, but unfortunately, its success is dependent on adoption by application developers.

For example, Matt from Dopplr commented on yesterday’s post. Thanks for that. I still want to know how Dopplr will integrate with Fire Eagle. Yesterday, I told Brightkite I was at the Palms in Las Vegas. It updated Fire Eagle, but despite having read/write set on my Dopplr integration, Dopplr still thinks I’m in Portland.

Maybe it’s user error, but I don’t think so. The promise of location brokering is that I can set it up to handle how my location is stored and distributed. By implementing the Fire Eagle API incompletely, Dopplr has forced my hand. If I want to use it for location stuff, I’ll need to set location from Dopplr and only in Dopplr, not somewhere else like Brightkite or even in Fire Eagle directly.

Or maybe they’re not done integrating. If that’s the case, my bad and +1 for full implementation.

This is kinda like the promise of OpenID as a single broker for authentication credentials. I have a friend who refuses to comment on sites that don’t support OpenID. I tend to agree, although it’s not entirely feasible; I applaud the stance.

As our information gets spread all over the place, it becomes easier to use for nefarious purposes, not to mention a lot of stuff to remember. But mandating uptake of these services is impossible and laughable.

So, I guess it’s up to each of us.

What do you think? Sound off in comments.



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