Sunday, December 10, 2006

My Mobile Application Travel Experience

With a four hour layover last Sunday in Cincinnati (Northern Kentucky to be entirely accurate), I had the opportunity to look at some mobile applications with which I had not previously been acquainted. Here's the rundown:

Handango On Demand: The installation for this application came with my new phone (see earlier post about the Samsung IP-830W). Firstly, and most importantly, the content is actually pretty good. When I landed at my destination in Seattle, I actually used this application to find out what the score was of the Giants vs. Cowboys game.

Unfortunately, the content is the only good thing about the application. The user interface is confusing and non-standard. It is completely understandable if an application follows Windows Mobile User Interface guidelines, executes in full screen mode, or executes in a kiosk like mode. Oddly enough, this application combines all three. It replaces the Windows taskbar, yet still uses soft keys. Button placements are also inconsistent, and it appeared to me that they were trying to trick me into tapping a button to buy something by constantly moving where buttons were placed.

The user interface only scratches the surface though. Before installing this application, I had the .NET Compact Framework 2.0 SP1 installed. Well, Handango On Demand wouldn't install without the original 2.0 version installed. That is just plain embarrassing.

Audible Air: This application works in conjunction with the book service. provides audio books and program subscriptions for purchase and download in formats that work on portable media players such as ipods. A few years ago (when I had a little bit more free time), I had had a subscription and purchased probably about 20 books. Miraculously, I was able to remember my username and password. After logging in with my information, I was able to see the list of items that I had previously purchased and download them directly to my phone. I chose to download one of them which was very painless (and fast with EV-DO speeds). If the audible team extends the application so that new items can be purchased, I think they might get enough impulse buys from people like me to be worth it. I definitely would have bought a new audio book in that position for my flight to Seattle.

Windows Live Search for Mobile Beta: Wow! I downloaded and installed the cab file for this application while sitting in the airport. Being that I had booked my flight to Seattle less than a week earlier (and thus the reason for my four hour layover), I had somehow neglected to figure out how I was getting from the Seattle-Tacoma airport to my hotel in downtown Seattle. As soon as the plane landed in Seattle and it was taxi-ing to the gate, I whipped out my phone and started Windows Live Search. I was easily able to look up the address and the phone number of my hotel and even see where on the map it was located. I used this information to call them and ask, and once I had decided on taking a taxi I used the map to keep track of the route.

One suggestion I would make for the future is the ability to add looked up information directly to contacts. The other little minor annoyance was that the application is added to the Programs menu with a shortcut name of "Search". On my phone, Sprint had already added one with that name which means that Windows Live Search shows up as "Search (1)". Overall though, this is an amazing application which everyone who can have it installed should have it installed.

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