Maybe you’ve tinkered a bit with the Google Maps API. Most of the software produced with it is not all that useful or entertaining, but a few gem have shone through. Still, wouldn’t it be better if applications produced with it could be easily ported to other online mapping services like Mapquest or Yahoo! Maps?
Some of Mapstraction’s current features are what you would expect: point, line, and polygon support, image overlay, GeoRSS and KML feed importing, and several others. We’re really looking forward to future versions with OpenStreetMap support. Currently Mapstraction works with only commercial mapping services, but OpenStreetMap combined with Mapstraction directly hits the sweet spot; a customizable, open source map.
Here’s a quick hack to satiate our appetite for location aware applications. The Dash Express is a GPS unit with cellular and WiFi radios so it can do two way communication. Out of the box it can download maps and traffic on the fly. A little while ago they opened up the API so the device could receive info from other web services and owners could give feedback, like reporting speed traps live. The handy hack embedded above publishes your location to Twitter; we would have preferred it hit an actual location service like Brightkite. This just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to possible applications. We wonder what the adoption rate of the Dash Express will be, since the iPhone also has a touchscreen, GPS, and of course a cellular connection.
We’ve got a Dash Express in the lab and it’s based on the OpenMoko design. What sort of tomfoolery would you like to see us do with it? What do you think the killer app for the Dash Express will be?
Twitter users often have trouble explaining just exactly what the service is for. The site specifically asks “What are you doing right now?” A simple interface and multiple ways to update means people have started hooking it to different real world objects… objects that aren’t reporting what they had for lunch. After the break, we’ll cover a couple devices that have interfaced Twitter to the real world and how you can update from your command line.