New York – Searching for nearby businesses by voice, accessing MySpace from a cellphone, and redirecting email to a BlackBerry via WiFi are among the services launched in recent days by separate cell carriers.
Sprint Nextel became the first U.S. carrier to offer GPS-enabled voice search for local business listings. T-Mobile launched MySpace access from its keyboard-equipped Sidekick, joining carriers Helio and AT&T in offering MySpace access from select handsets. And AT&T Wireless unveiled the nation’s first WiF-equipped BlackBerry, which provides corporate and personal email redirection for the first time via WiFi networks, not just cellular networks.
At Sprint, the carrier previously combined GPS automatic-location capability with the ability to search for nearby businesses by category, such as restaurants, or by name, but users had to manually type in a business’s name or a business category. Now, on five phones, users need only open the voice search application and press the talk button while speaking a search term. The phone will then automatically find the user’s location and return nearby results, a spokeswoman explained.
The application is available as a free over-the-air download to five phones: the Motorola Razr, LG’s Muziq, Samsung A900, Samsung A920 and Samsung M610. The company also plans to increase availability to additional phones. “Only the most recent handsets have the technological capability to perform voice search in a manner which provides a satisfying customer experience,” the spokeswoman said.
In another advance, Sprint said it became the first carrier to offer an Internet search engine on a majority of its data-enabled phones. Other carriers do not offer open Internet search or offer it on only one or two models, the spokeswoman said. The search engine, Microsoft Live Search, marks “the first time Sprint is offering the ability to search the open Internet using a search box just like the one you might use on your desktop,” she added.
In another Internet-related development, T-Mobile launched MySpace Mobile service for the Danger-made Sidekick, which features large color screen, full QWERTY keyboard, and cellular-based instant messaging and Web browsing. The always-on MySpace Mobile service enables real-time updates and a custom user interface.
To access the MySpace site, Danger created a private interconnection to MySpace, enabling Sidekick users to access all of their account data and interact with friends in real time, the company said. Users will be able to read, reply to, or post comments to the profiles and photos of friends as well as read and reply to comments on their own profiles, Danger said.
Handset-based client software is being made available for over-the-air download in a staged rollout to the T-Mobile Sidekick user base throughout the next several weeks. All Sidekick iD and Sidekick 3 users will be able to download it by the end of October.
The handset’s customized user interface displays new messages, friend requests and comments. To use other service features, users navigate through the four main sections of the application: Home, MyMail, Blog, and Search. The Sidekick’s directional pad allows users to jump from each activity without waiting for a page to load.
Real-time features include profile editing, which allows profile updates to be reflected immediately on the MySpace Web site. Optimized photo management enables users to upload photos with captions from their Sidekick. Real-time push messaging automatically pushes content, such as new friend requests or new messages, to the handset, notifying users of new MySpace activity even when they are using other Sidekick applications.
The MySpace Mobile application will also deliver the online status of friends who are online.
For people who prefer to stay in touch via email, AT&T launched the country’s first WiFi-equipped BlackBerry, the keyboard-equipped 8820 at $299 after two-year contract and rebate. The quad-band device uses cellular EGDE data or 802.11a,b, and g to browse the web and access personal or corporate email via Research In Motion’s email redirection service.
Users can get their email through enterprise WiFi networks, home WiFi networks, or hot spots, including 10,000 AT&T-branded hot spots in the U.S. The 8820 also accesses email via WiFi networks and hot spots “even in those few countries where AT&T does not have wireless wide area network-roaming agreements,” a spokesman said. AT&T has GSM-network roaming agreements in 190 countries.
Accessing email via WiFi “is seamless from the standpoint that users can turn on the 8820’s Wi-Fi radio via the Manage Connections application,” the spokesman explained. “If a WiFi network is detected, the user can enter the appropriate credentials [such as password] to put the WiFi network into a saved profile. Once a profile for a specific Wi-Fi network is established, the device will automatically switch to WiFi when it is detected. Otherwise EDGE is the default data connection.”
The 8820 also features GPS, push-to-talk, music-streaming services, and TeleNav’s GPS Navigator turn-by-turn driving-instruction application. It’s available through the company’s 1,800 AT&T-branded stores, direct from the company web site, select national retailers, and AT&T’s direct-to-business sales group.