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Preview: Helio Drift

Body Interface Location Comments  33  

One of the Drift's new features, and one that will show up in more Helio phones are location based services. The Google Maps application takes advantage of the A-GPS in CDMA phones and allows you to generate driving directions to a destination based on your current location. The route is displayed over a Google-generated map and you can cycle through the instructions. However this is not a navigation application like cars or even Nextel phones have. The application does not follow your location or update the route. However it can download current freeway traffic information so you can use that to plan your route.

Don't doubt this application's usefulness, even though it does not give you constant updates. We used it to get everywhere in LA and it worked very well as long as we had some idea of where we were. The application does try to update your location when you move the map, or go to the next driving instruction, so it's not totally static. The only real caveat about using this as an in-car GPS device is that the directions are written in a tiny font. It's much safer to give the Drift to a passenger to use as a navigation aid than to try and use it yourself while driving.

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Helio's other location service, Buddy Beacon, mysteriously uses Mapquest services instead of Google. When you start the application, it checks to see if any of your buddies have updated their location recently and will show you where they are both by address and on a map that includes your own location. If a buddy has not updated his location in a while, a yellow dot will appear next to his name. You can then send a request to that person to update his location. He will receive an SMS asking him to turn on his beacon so you can find him. It seems simple, but it's actually a pretty useful little tool, and certainly easier to use than Dodgeball.

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