I am fascinated by the Business of Directory Listing . I think they serve a fundamental need of modern urban life . but Its usually considered to be a boring line of work. Because much of the work in it consist of consist of good old data collection ,distribution and syndication and ensuring that data remains up to date . but That's just one (BIG) part of it . If you look at it historically this is one of the most resilient business , which have not only transformed itself but also capitalized on every technological shift in last couple of decade.
Back in old days this need used to be served by publications like The Whole Earth Catalogue , Sears's mail order catalog and Your annually published local Yellow pages. with the spread of telephone we saw the emergence of telephonic directory assistance help line like Ask Me, Just dial . some players like Tell Me introduced a different spin by adding speech recognition to the product mix . With the invent of Internet we saw migration of incumbent players on to internee.Next frontier for this business will unsubtly be Mobile phone. I am amazed by the level of activity and innovation happening in this domain.One testimony of diversity of innovation can be found on Lab Report itself. I have reviewed four mobile search product and none of them have same product mix. Today we are going to add one more application in this list , StreetSmart from Asklaila.
StreetSmart is a local search application developed by Four Interactive,the company behind online local search portal Asklaila.com . This application is part of their mobile strategy and its complemented by a WAP portal and SMS Search. Streetsmart is supported for Windows Mobile,Symbian and JAVA/j2ME platform. you can download it from their web page . Its available on Ovi store too (link).It took me couple of minute to download and install it on my Nokia E63 using Ovi. After installation Streetsmart take a little time to capture your location. Your location is shown on welcome page using a map interface.You can jump to search box by pressing the right soft key. I searched for "Pasta". Result page was an overlay on top of map interface . as shown in screen shot below .It has got separate tabs for listing,address and details. user can navigate between these tabs using the left and right arrow key. By default the focus is on the listing page . user can traverse the listings using up and down arrow key and on each listing trigger an action like Call ,Send as SMS etc using the menu options. user can also see these listing as a map overlay by pressing the right soft key .
Four Interactive uses the map data provided by Microsoft and by default all its results are optimized for geographic vicinity . user can change that by un-checking the box on the search page . Location info is critical for providing most relevant and proximity based result against your search query. Unlike many local search player in the market ,AskLaila is not relying solely on third party syndicated data .they are investing heavily in building their own database. I am not sure if all entries in their database are Geo-tagged or they are using some heuristic algorithm to calculate the location of the business listed in their database.In any case I found the location to be accurate and result were mapped with sufficient accuracy with respect to my location.
In addition to this you can switch off the GPS usage by application from setting menu . You can also access all your previous search key words .They are saved as history on your device. user can go to the history page and invoke the search in case you want to use it again.I liked the idea but I would have preferred the predictive text format more than the current fixed text search agent format.In some sense User interface & work flow of street smart is not outstanding in terms of visual appeal but its functional and intuitive . I am sure that going forward Four interactive team will work on this aspect of application. outside of that, its a great application and given the wide range of local information available in their database it is a must have app on your phone. Do try it out and let me know how you feel about it .