Ajax In Your Pocket



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 responses to “Ajax In Your Pocket”

  1. Niels Avatar

    Failed on my 6630 as well.. even after a reboot.. that’s pretty bad

  2. alex Avatar

    worked flawlessly on my v551. great tip, thanks!

  3. Eric Avatar

    Also failed on my 6680 which reports 6MB free RAM. Must be related to an install or java heap.

  4. Colt West Avatar
    Colt West

    Failed to install on my 6682…Not enough system memory, but I have 5 MB available on the phone and 400 MB+ on my memory card!

  5. Niels Avatar

    I got it, I chose other under carriers, > nokia > 6682. that installed fine on my 6630.

    This is an amazing app!

  6. […] Matt Croydon 2006 will be the year of mobile Ajax […]

  7. C. Enrique Ortiz Avatar

    I understand what you are trying to communicate, but calling Java ME “AJAX” is not only stretching it way too much, but it is wrong — it is a Java smart client, not a script…

    AJAX will come to handsets with future mobile browsers though…

    I do agree 2006+ will be great year(s) for wireless mobility…


  8. Google Local for Mobile

    Matt Croydon: “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…

  9. Google’s Local App – Is this Mobility 2.0?

    Everyone is talking about Google’s Local for mobile application. The application is neat indeed, but what I really find interesting is all the extra “shock and awe” because the application comes from Google… I even read today a piece by Matt comp…

  10. Martin Little Avatar

    Matt, maybe I’m missing something (seriously possible), but is a big part of things being AJAX-y not the drag-and-drop style interface? As such, are you suggesting 2006 is the year of UIQ? Time for more dreams of the P990!

  11. mikali Avatar

    Check out this upcoming mobile ajax company Tricastmedia.com… it looks like they are also into mobile AJAX. Anyone knows what they have up their sleeves? http://www.tricastmedia.com

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