Location Based Services are the next big thing in wireless development (or are they the current big thing?). Everybody is working on it or has a friend that is. Unfortunately get the data to do LBS right, you’ve got to be pretty cozy with carriers. In the US, carriers are rolling out plans to make all cell phones locatable by one means or another in compliance with E911 laws. With all of the momentum tha LBS have, where are phones that support JSR-179, the Location API for J2ME? They’re just not out. And they’re not in the specs of any phones that I see on the horizon.
Motorola gets two gold stars for including a proprietary but working location API in their i730. It may not comply with the JSR, but who cares? At least we can use an API to figure out where the hell we are. I would love to just hop on the Moto bandwagon and develop LBS for the i730, but it’s an iDEN phone. iDEN rocks, don’t get me wrong, it’s just the opposite of developer friendly. See my rant from last week if you’d like to know more. The long and short of it is that there’s no way for me to distribute apps without going through their RIAA-like development and distribution model and only getting 20% of the profits.
There’s no way to give apps away for free either. You can’t download apps OTA like you can on other platforms.
What the world (and J2ME developers in particular) need are more phones on more open platforms that support any kind of location API, but preferably conforming to JSR-179. I’ll take anything at this point though. Nokia are you listening? What about Sony Ericsson? What about the Moto GSM division? Hell, I’d even write apps for Sprint phones if I could have access to a location API and let users download OTA.
Let this be a message to cel phone makers and MIDP implementors: give us a location API and we can write some killer apps that will sell you more phones.