back to article S60 knows where you're at

A new application for S60 phones opens the possibility of making every application location-aware, in a very primitive form, and promises to demonstrate the potential of today's GPS-enabled devices. Satellite navigation in a phone is a very nice thing to have, if you get lost a lot, but other than finding your way around and …


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  1. Anthony Shortland

    fall asleep on train/bus

    Could be useful if you're planning on a little snooze on train/bus I suppose to wake you up when you're there.

  2. Jimmy Floyd
    Jobs Horns

    Power is nothing without ... erm ... power

    Like all great mobile apps at the moment, the main issue here is likely to be battery life. My Vario III has a fantastic on-board GPS system which is very useful (particularly when waking up in ... 'unfamiliar' surroundings!).

    But ... battery life is significantly diminished. Yes, this probably has something to do with the likelihood of the screen being on at the same time. However, all these issues are going to be annoying if your whizz-bang gadget ends up with the battery life of a mid-90s brick.

    Stevey J, because iPhones are annoying and have questionable battery life as well.

  3. DZ-Jay

    Re: fall asleep on train/bus

    That sounds reasonable, yet I still think it's not compelling enough to warrant an entire application.


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    home control centre usage

    Could be handy for the new nokia Home control unit. When certain distance from home send a message as such to the system as such, then runs a predetermined set of rules based on outside temperature, etc etc..

    or if you forget to turn on the alarm when you leave home it reminds you..

    and so much more.. ;-)

  5. Alex

    Nokia! I Know

    Oh and I know that S60 runs on Nokias but work wont issue them till they catch up in the perception of procurement people and raw sales to the public with the jesus sorry i phone and the black brick, no blackberry

  6. david

    could it be used

    ... for fleet drivers so head office know that one of their vehicles has gone through an ANPR toll / Congestion charge zone.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of uses....

    Disagree about not needing alarms for locations...

    - Tuesday nights, when I get home, I want a reminder to put the bins out, before I get stuck into doing something else..

    - On buses, if I'm not paying attention, a reminder to get off when within 500 yds..

    - "next time I pass a post office", post that letter I've been carrying around for 2 weeks..

    - go out to the shops, walk around streets.. Have reminders to prevent walking past a shop you need to buy something from..


  8. Adam Foxton
    Thumb Up

    Alternative use

    I wrote a thing a while back that would do the location-based alarms but in a "useful" way. The idea was you could download tags from the internet and have them flash up at certain locations- making it useful for people like tourists ("This is a statue of Queen Victoria" at a statue of Queen Victoria) or travellers (load up at the train station).

    Initially this started out as a load of tags- I used Google Earth style KMLs pointing to online items- but eventually I gave up as it got too data- intensive and because there wasn't any money in it as a small developer.

    A further evolution was going to be traffic or police data ("You are entering an area with a high incidence rate of ASBO ownership, heavy rain and violent crime. Have a nice day"). Unfortunately I don't think this is publically available so it'd have to be "This is the house of a BNP member" or something...

    A modified version of the code now turns on my kettle so it'll have boiled when I get to the door, turns on the toaster for the smell of fresh toast as I get to the door, as well as turning on the TV and putting it onto the correct channel. <Prof Frink> Yes, I am a geek. mwhey </frink>

    Do location-based alarms still seem quite so only-questionably-useful, oh Author?

  9. Chris O'Shea
    Thumb Up

    Uses for proximity alarms ...

    Aside from the excellent use Anthony Shortland mentioned above (which I've been pushing for years) of letting you know you're getting near your stop and so should get your bags together (or just wake up after a hard day at work or evening drinking) there are several other obvious applications

    1) "Next time I'm in Tescos I must remember to buy milk" ... set a proximity alarm for Tescos to remind you!

    2) "I always miss the turning for Aunt Beryl" - set a proximity alarm even if you're not using route planning software

    3) "Must put phone on silent" (when entering office, cinema, church etc.)

    4) Put in list of all Youngs pubs and when you are near one the proximity alarm goes off so you can go in and tick it off your beer-spotting list!

    5) Toll-charge zones when driving (even when not using route planning)

    6) As you approach the train station on the way home, have it trigger an application that looks up what platform your next train will leave from and how long until the train so you know whether you have time to buy a coffee

    7) When you leave an area have an alarm to check the weather and remind you to take an umbrella/snow shovel or just to download traffic and travel reports.

    8) Have a proximity alarm set to send a text saying "I'm five minutes from the school/office/wherever, be outside waiting" so you can concentrate on driving without having to fumble with the phone to let them know you're nearly there

    9) Send your address with GPS co-ordinates so that when someone is coming to visit, when they get close enough their phone will pop up the address automatically.

    10) Have it scan your address book and as you're wandering around your phone can alert you if you're passing within range of your friends, so you can give them a call and drop in for a cup of tea (I've often been in Camden Town or elsewhere and only later realised I'd walked past a friends house and they've told me they'd have been delighted to see me ... of course they were lying, but still :-) )

    11) Have the proximity alert send text messages to your group of friends when you're nearly at the pub to let them know you'll be in in a moment and someone should have your beer ready and waiting!

    12) receive a text message from Ikea/McDonalds/wherever with a 10% off coupon and it pops up when you get within proximity of that establishment. Obviously this must be something you *choose* and not a general spam!

  10. Alex
    Black Helicopters

    just think of....

    all that lovely "user activity" data you could harvest, oh hang on did you say this is on s60? now if only a major Finnish mobile manufacturer was interested in "activity profile harvesting"

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    PhoneAlarm on the WinMo platform has had the ability to do something similar for a while (switch profiles, and carry out actions, based on CellID or GPS location). Locale on Android also does the same thing. There's also a reminder app for iPhone which does the same thing.

    But don't let the fact that Nokia are last to market with an app like this get in the way of a good story, eh? ;)

  12. Stef

    Not exactly new

    There was an app for the Sony Ericsson P-series phones that was based upon base station detection. As I moved from home to work the phone would automatically reconfigure itself, e.g. quieter ringtones, more sedate wallpaper etc.

    No GPS required.

  13. John H Woods Silver badge

    or for kids

    Could pop up the parental dialog - 'where the hell do you think YOU are going?'

  14. Christoph

    Shopping offers?

    When you're in a high street or mall, search the shops in that area for bargain offers on things you're interested in.

    Yes the shops run similar things, but this one is controlled by you, not by pointy-haired marketing droids. It would alert you only on a very good offer, not on everything they can stuff in.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    My first thought is that it could give an alarm notifying you of calendar events in advance, taking into account distance you have to go to get there... If the meeting is in the office next door it could give you 30 seconds notice; if it's on the other side of the world it could give you 30 hours notice (and then at suitable intervals as you near it).

    This could then be adapted to correlate traffic/transport delays so that if theres particularly heavy traffic you get an earlier notice etc.

    The possibilities are endless, but personally I don't want to never have an excuse for being late!!

    It could be web2.0-ised to provide a proximity alarm: alert you when you're passing a pub that has your mates in it, or give you advance warning when the misses is approaching... at a time dependant on her speed of course.

  16. Adam

    Indoors reception

    The problem here with GPS is of course it's only going to work properly whilst outdoors. A-GPS just isn't accurate enough for working with pre-defined zones (i.e. falling asleep on the train, and not being woken up till you're a couple of km's away from your stop) - or having your "car" profile activated while you're still in your office).

    The use of basestations/repeaters/WiFi or Bluetooth signals from other equipment, to say, lock/unlock your PC without passwords as you leave it at your work desk or walk back to it, however, I think is something useful... not earth shattering, but convenient.

  17. vrghost
    Thumb Up

    Forget me not, my dearest owner

    I think we are considering this the wrong way around, because lets face it, the last thing we want is a new way for Mc Donald’s to tell me I can get a 99 pence hamburger, and just to prove that I harbour any bad feelings towards Mc Donald’s, I don’t really need to know that the stations burger king will sell me a much nicer tasting (according to 10 out of 10 burger king customers asked) for the same price. I am even ready to bet that there will be companies other then hamburger joints that would be so kind as to offer me advice on how to transfer money from my valet to an unnamed corporate account, all to save me from having to carry to much money around, there are many such organisations around who works tirelessly day and night to help me do just this.

    What I’m thinking is more the possibility of getting the thing to tell me when I’m leaving, if I walk out of my house for example, fifty meters down the road would be a bad place to be reminded of the fact that I promised to lend a friend some unusual book, but not quite as bad as one hours commute later when this currently about to be ex-friend comes and ask me for it.

  18. Alex

    Replace the RFID cards with iPhones and have the management tarck you?

    If implemented correctly with proper security precautions your work issued iPhone or blackberry could open the barrier to the staff car park with gps or base station location open the security doors at work with blue tooth, tell your colleges where you are but when you phone in sick an hour after the new secretary and the boss sees both your phones in london city centre near one base station... Is there a privacy issue if we use the obvious tracking ability which a comany has the right as owner of the device? It could also be required to be near you're work laptop or desktop at start up, set your im status to away when you're on the move deliver email to the device when you are not at your computer... I think you get the idea.

    There are some concerns about the increased impact of losing a phone that does all that but if you can cut down company kit to a laptop and a phone and set up strong passwords access codes bio metrics or some appropriate system the automation and information generating capabilities provided could be very useful.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ home control centre usage

    You definitely have a point. However, couldn't that be done by other technologies, like NFC, instead of an always-on power-hungry GPS application? Indeed, the battery life will be the problem.

  20. bob

    good product - doesn't need gps

    I have installed the trial version, and I notice you can set times as well as locations, so for instance I can set it to change my profile to silent only at home, at the weekend, between midnight and 9:00 am, for an uninterupted lie-in.

    @ Jimmy Floyd: It seems to be able to work from Cell tower info only, so I think the effect on battery life should be minimal

    The tone of this article is a little cynical, but this is potentially a very useful ap.

    ps. I have nothing to do with whoever developed this, just thought the reporting was a little unfair!

  21. JohnnyG

    Location based alarms

    I wrote anorak: to solve the train problem -- on dark nights knowing when you are close to your station. anorak just uses cell tower ids for this purpose, so you don't even need GPS, but locations are only as good as the cell tower density.

    I moved house and started to commute by bike and found anorak less useful (entering details for new cell towers as you pedal along is likely to get you a Darwin award).

    So, I moved on to GPS based stuff:

    johnjohn needs more work + there are some neat things that could be done to combine ideas from anorak.

  22. Franklin

    The street finds its own uses for things

    Funny, that...I'd just been musing about the utility of a device capable of taking...err, specified actions based on GPS coordinates in a more...umm...well, *intimate* context just a few weeks ago.

    Now it sounds like someone's done the heavy lifting for me.

  23. Chris

    Nothing new here

    Optus in Australia launched its MyZooNow 3G interface with a similar feature set just over three years ago (using Bullant - now xumii technology). MyZooNow had a 'modes' feature that allowed users to set many application preferences. Mode changes were triggered in response to a location change or more simple date/time rules. Typically, a 'home' and 'work' mode was defined - the idea being that at home you have the footie and at work the footsie.

    The base Bullant platform could also trigger ad displays as well as launch applications as a result of a location change. I also recall that Psiloc had a similar S60 product in the market 3 years ago. Indeed, my current company sells a rules based engine for S60 where complex rules can be created to do the same thing.

    Nothing new here from what I can see.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Since when?

    "It's hard to imagine when one might want an alarm to notify arrival at a specific place - one is usually already aware of such a thing"

    You mean, people using mobile phones have started looking where they're going?

  25. Tim Cook

    Not new, and not ready yet

    As others have said, this is a very old idea, implemented in various different ways previously (with or without GPS).

    More to the point, it's a gimmick in the same way that all these things turn out to be gimmicks, because the technology isn't ready or reliable enough to be put to serious use. Constant location-aware services on any device mean constant battery drain, which soon adds up to a far greater inconvenience than that resolved by whatever trivial task is being performed. It's also unreliable, since GPS signals are regularly lost or unavailable, meaning you can never rely on the feature at any given moment anyway (even while it continues to suck your battery dry).

    The killer app of GPS is TomTom, and only that.

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