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The I Am Here application has been reviewed in the new book Amazing Android Apps for Dummies, by Daniel Begun. It goes on sale through bookstores March 6th, and is already available on the Kindle.
While I will continue to write about GeoSMS news here, I have also set up another blog to write about other research I’m doing. If you’re interested, come visit http://my20percent.wordpress.com
Many previous attempts at SMS geotagging have simply incorporated a Google Maps URL into the message body. While this maximizes the chances that an existing handset can display the location, it has many drawbacks that make it unsuitable as a future geotagging standard.
The aim of geotagging is to transmit a location, but the function of a URL is to display one, which is a different thing. The URL only contains a view of the location, not necessarily the location itself. It’s the difference between sending someone a fax of a printed document versus e-mailing them the file. The fax might be human-readable, but it’s useless to machines. The file itself can be put to many uses.
So in conclusion, URLs are not suitable as a geotagging standard. If you really want to make sure that a receiving handset can display a location, use a proper geotagging standard such as geosms and include a URL. It’ll cost an extra 20-30 characters, but in the long run it will be more useful to the recipient.
The I Am Here Android application has been updated again. The 1.04 release now has the option to view maps in either satellite mode or the usual map mode. The feature was requested by some people who use the application in remote areas.
So you’ve figured out a way to geotag SMSes. What are you going to call it? GeoSMS of course. Too bad everyone else had the same idea.
Here are all the examples of GeoSMS we’ve come across –
All very confusing. I’m thinking maybe we should have called our standard GeoTXT instead.
When we were designing the GeoSMS standard we looked around for other examples of SMS geotagging to see if it had already been done. It turns out there were quite a few previous applications, but nothing with a published standard.
In early 2007 the E-TEN Glofish M700 was launched, one of the first GPS-equipped smart phones to hit the market. Bundled with the phone was an application called Location SMS that let you send your GPS coordinates in human-readable form.
Based solely on the screen shot, it seems to use the reader-friendly B DD:MM‘SS.SS“ format to represent the location.
The TrekBuddy application, which runs on Java-enabled GPS devices, has had an SMS capability since September 2006. The SMS format wasn’t officially published, but it was mentioned in a forum post –
The GeoSMS service was established by Coldbeans Software, a Moscow-based company, in November 2007. If you send an SMS of the form *location* message to +7909 921 3670 your message will be displayed on their on-line Google map at the specified location.
Although this is technically a published standard, the definition of location is “anything understood by the Google Geocoding API”. This means the receiving application needs an internet connection. It’s also not that accurate, unless you want to specify your location down to the street number. In which case, why bother with geotagging?
From the same group of Muscovites came another GeoSMS service in September 2009, part of their Geo Messages suite. This is an HTML5 application that lets you send your current location, formatted as a bit.ly-compressed Google Maps URL.
Google Maps URLs, to be honest, are probably the best way to send a location to another person given the currently-deployed handsets, since they have the best chance of being displayed correctly. But they aren’t suitable as a geotagging standard because they require the receiving device to have internet access, and they rely on a proprietary Google interface. The use of bit.ly has similar problems, plus it’s at the mercy of the Libyan government.
Finally, there’s the GeoSMS Android application, released by Geeksville Industries in March 2010. This application also uses Google Maps URLs to encode the location.