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Ajax In Your Pocket

Posted: November 7th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Mobile | 55 Comments »

Mobile GMaps

There goes Google, taking it to the next level again. Their latest offering is Google Local for Mobile. What they’ve done is essentially taken the Ajax model for desktop browsers and brought it the phone using J2ME. The idea is to have a fairly lightweight MIDlet (38k for the MIDP2 version) that then grabs all the data neccesary from the network.

While this isn’t a horribly new idea, I think in this case it’s all about execution. Check out the tour to see everything that they’ve crammed in to this midlet. Your basic search is there, directions are there, simple smooth navigation is there. The interface is clean but at the same time there is a ton of information at your fingertips. They’ve also managed to cram driving directions in there, which is something I miss from MGMaps. To be fair, MGMaps has had a j2me interface to Google Maps for quite some time now and it’s the most used MIDlet on my phone. More than once it has helped me figure out where I am or where I’m trying to go.

I’m glad to see Google pushing the mobile space like this. At the same time with mobile devices and J2ME you’re going to run in to some glitches. For example, I snagged the JAD by going to google.com/glm with Opera on my phone. It snagged the JAD and started installing it. After downloading it promptly ran out of memory and quit the installer. This isn’t Google’s fault, it’s the 6682’s known lack of a decent amount of memory. What worries me is that if the installation process failed on a rather high end device, I worry about how it would do on a super generic low end flippy. What is even worse is that after downloading and bluetoothing the JAR to my phone, I don’t get any farther than a bunch of “Loading…” on my screen. It looks pretty and fun in the emulator though.

While there are still some growing pains to get through, Google is definitely on to something. To get around the problem of mobile browsers sucking, why not just get rid of the browser completely?

I predict that 2006 will be the year of mobile Ajax. While I might be stretching the Ajax term a bit beyond Javascript and XMLHTTPRequest, I expect to see a new breed of apps and services with that Ajax feel to them hitting mobile devices in 2006. Google’s offering is just (as usual) before its time. On the horizon we also see Nokia’s WebCore based browser which will be more than capable of traditional Ajax, more devices shipping with Flash and SVG support, connected tablets (Nokia 770 and the PSP), and more. Trust me, 2006 is going to be a wild ride.

Update: Thanks for the comments everyone. On Niels‘ suggestion I tried Other -> Nokia -> 6682 and it worked like a charm. Someone needs to fix the Cingular -> Nokia -> 6682 JAD.


55 Comments on “Ajax In Your Pocket”

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