This past weekend I got a demo of uLocate’s WHERE mobile widget platform. I was impressed. The widgets that I saw were easy to use and had a number of useful features. The WHERE widgets can be location aware. An example is the Twitter widget. It passes along the GPS coordinates of the poster for easier consumption via Twittervision.
A subscriber pays $2.99 a month for all the widgets they desire. A user can manage their widgets via drag-n-drop on the WHERE site. They can also download them from the phone. Some of the available widgets include Earthquakes, Rent-a-Car, Brewery Finder, directions, and Weather. Just released at Where 2.0 is a Mapufacture widget that lets you search for area-specific KML and GeoRSS feeds to display on a map.
There is also a DYI tab for user created widgets. In this tab users can upload or point to a KML or GeoRSS feed to create a widget. The feed is consumed via a map whenever the user decides to access that widget. They are also able to create search widgets that will run a set query along with their location against the search provider of their choice. The example I saw was “sushi”. Using this widget I was able to launch a search for sushi restaurants with one step and then view the results on a map.
Unsurprisingly, uLocate is pushing their developer platform. The beauty of this for developers is that you can roll the widgets out to anyone using the WHERE platform in 48 hours. To construct widgets you use their provided XML tags to get your widget to work on all of the supported phones. There is also a separate GeoSpatial API for the platform for advanced geo uses. You do need a WHERE-supported phone, but it sounds like they are willing to help with that. The platform seems easy to use and as you can see below there’s already been a Google Street View hack.
The WHERE platform is currently available on Sprint, but other networks are coming. You can see the list of handsets in their FAQ.