Good stuff: Google Local for mobile devices

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While traveling in unfamiliar territory over the Thanksgiving holiday, I needed coffee. Bad. So I fired up my mobile phone’s web browser and surfed to Google Mobile. Just as I was about to submit a search to the Google Local web form, I noticed a link to something intriguing: Google Local for mobile devices (GLM).

Curious, I checked it out. I discovered that GLM is a Java applet that runs on your cell phone to provide a phone-optimized interface to Google Local’s servers. After a quick over-the-air download, I was ready to try it out.

I fired up the GLM applet and entered my query: “coffee elkin,nc.” In a few seconds, I had a clean, crisp map that showed a number of coffee shops. Pressing 1, 2, 3, and so on, I got the details for the various shops. When I found one I liked, I selected “Directions to here” from the details menu. Then I used my phone’s cursor keys to select a spot on the map that approximated my current location. After a few seconds of “Routing…” the map updated and plotted a path to coffee salvation. In a few minutes, I had a coffee in my hand and was back on the road.

The process was fast and painless. It just plain worked. I knew then and there that Google Local for mobile devices is good stuff.

Right now GLM is only available on Cingular and Sprint networks, and even then only for more-recent Java-based phones. [Update: In a comment, Mark points out that GLM works on some T-Mobile phones, too.] If my phone or network didn’t support GLM, I would seriously consider switching to a phone-network combo that did. GLM is that cool.

In any case, when your cell-phone contract is up, you ought to factor GLM into your renewal/switch plans. A cell phone with GLM is a heck of a lot more useful than one without it.

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