Maemo Mapper takes us closer to the Hitchhiker's Guide

I’ve written before how Nokia 770 is the real Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The device already gives an ubiquitous access to the web, and now with the upcoming new OS release, to Jabber chat and VoIP calls.

However, what has been severely missing from a mobile device earlier has been information about the place the user is in. For that, the Maemo Mapper is an important first piece - maps and position.

Navigating in Eira with Maemo Mapper

The application is still new, and as it doesn’t have any formal agreement with Google Maps requires a bit of manual setup, but it still is able to provide a nicer user experience than some commercial navigation packages I’ve seen.

Now the next obvious thing would be to enable it to use other sources for the position information besides a GPS receiver. Plazes integration would enable users to gain their position from WiFi access points without need for additional hardware.

And while we’re at it, it would be very cool to be able to retrieve nearby Placeopedia spots and populate those to the calendar. And there it would be, a device that would automatically show your position on a map and show interesting things nearby (with Wikipedia links for more info), whether or not a GPS device is available. Like Nokia says:

It’s where you’re at.

What is remarkable about this process is that Maemo Mapper happened without any knowledge or interference from Nokia (or Google I guess). This shows the power of a free development ecosystem. I mentioned this also earlier:

Now what is especially cool about the N770 and WikiPedia combination is that there is no central authority to convince to be able to build this. WikiPedia is open content, and Nokia 770’s platform is fully open, meaning that anybody can just sit down and implement this.

It remains to be seen is whether Nokia and their newfound partner Google will embrace the Hitchhiker’s Guide idea and start supporting apps like Maemo Mapper.

Updated 18:07Z: On a second thought, we might be willing to sponsor Plazes integration to Nokia 770 (and Maemo Mapper) a bit. If somebody is interested in working on that, please contact me.