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Mobile Google Maps: First on Treo with KMaps!

By now most every Treonaut will have used Google Maps at least once on their PC and wished that they could have the same on their Treo while on the go.

Well, one passionate, dedicated and resourceful Treonaut did a little more than wishing and went out to develop the first (as far as I know) Mobile Google Maps application to easily view them on his own Treo.

In his words, he did this because “Since I use Google Maps often and I use my Treo 650 all the time, I thought it would be nice to have some of Google Maps on my Treo. Google Maps implementation is heavy on AJAX and no Treo 650 web browser to my current knowledge is able to handle Google Maps the way they are handled in PC browsers (at least my Xiino and Blazer aren't able to handle them).  So, I decided to add some of Google Maps’ functionality on Treo 650.”

The early result of his work is extremely exciting with his free application – called KMaps – an excellent tool to quickly deliver Google Maps to your Treo (it will soon also support satellite images).

Personally, I am keen to use Google Maps on the go to look up shops and restaurants on the one hand but also to simply have a map of an area where I need to go to for a meeting or visiting friends on the other.  In a mobile situation where time is of the essence, one of the great things about Google Maps is its ability to deliver results based on less than perfect queries.  For example, a simple “94108” zip code entry conveniently brings up the relevant map for “San Francisco, CA 94108 USA”.

KMaps’ installation is straightforward with a single 108k .prc file.  However, as it was developed as a Java mobile application (possibly for porting to other platforms in the future) it does require the separate installation of IBM Java WebSphere Everyplace Micro Environment (available for free to Treo 650 owners) which occupies a rather more hefty 1.6MB of memory.  Having said this, I really believe that KMaps is worth it and so I put aside my Java reticence and finally installed on my Treo.

Before launching KMaps for the first time you’ll need to open the separate IBM Java VM application.  At startup, KMaps will present you with a Settings page where you’ll choose the maps’ Distance Unit (miles or kilometers), Average Walking Speed (there’s a little guy walking on the maps as you navigate), the size of the maps that you’d like to download (I recommend 3x3 to speed the download and max is currently 5x5 as a full Google Map page can run up to 1MB in size), the map’s default Zoom as well as option to Show Latitude and Longitude.  Once these setting are saved you’re ready to start your first map search.

As per the previous example, I did a search for “94108 restaurant” and promptly received 10 results for restaurants in that zip code from which I could choose.  I selected the first and clicked on Map.  After about 30 seconds the map with the restaurant’s location – highlighted by the now familiar red balloon – appeared.

Additionally, if you’d like to quickly repeat the same search in the future you can select Menu > Save Address.  This currently only saves the search query and business contact details but a future version (perhaps next week) will include the saving of maps to your SD card.  Additionally, there is also a plan to include integration with your Contacts.

Using the Up/Down or Left/Right on the 5Way button allowed me navigate (with the little walking guy that I mentioned earlier) across the map with a bricks pattern marking the maps limits.  If you need to download a larger section of the map simply use the 5Way to move in the required direction and when the ‘little guy’ hits the limit a new map ‘tile’ will be downloaded.

Clicking on the location’s balloon will bring up the full address and contact details.  There is no Menu access from the maps and so you’ll need to know that the Center 5Way will take you to the Zoom adjustment page while clicking ‘B’ on your keyboard will take you back to the initial search page.

KMaps has only been out for a couple of days and there are still a few minor bugs but the application offers much potential for further improvement which after exchanging emails with the author I have no doubt will be forthcoming very soon.  Some ideas about how I envisage that KMaps could be further improved include:

  • Currently KMaps does not have a cache of previously viewed maps and so I would like to see maps remain in memory after exiting the application instead of currently requiring the search to be repeated.  In this same vein all maps should be able to be saved to card so as to allow for offline browsing –perhaps even a conduit could be created to download maps via the web to our Treo.
  • Integration with Contacts (forthcoming).
  • Direct dial of numbers from within KMaps + save address to Contacts
  • Integration with 3rd party traffic information data

The possibilities are virtually limitless and the developer, Ivan Mitrovic, is keen to get your own feedback so please make sure to share it with him so that he can continue to refine his already very good application.  At the same time, please note that he’s using Google’s proprietary maps and so cannot sell his application but will instead rely on your donations (which he undoubtedly deserves).

KMaps - Google Maps on the go on Treo 650
IBM Java WebSphere Everyplace Micro Environment [Palm Support]

Treonauts are always on the map

Posted by Andrew on July 28, 2005 at 07:39 AM

Treo Software | Mapping

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by matt r. | Jul 28, 2005 10:15:14 AM

Quick and painless to install and EXTREMELY useful.

by Billy | Jul 28, 2005 10:29:38 AM

First of all, I think this is phenomonal and will be attempting to install it real soon.

However, the author is incorrect claiming this to be the first mobile application for Google Maps.

Several weeks ago, I read on Engadget about Mobile GMaps (http://www.mgmaps.com/index.php), a J2ME app that does the exact same thing as thing. Unfortunately, after I installed Java on my Treo, this app still wouldn't launch.

So this great new app we have, would be the first one created for the Treo. Nothing wrong with that.

by Jordan | Jul 28, 2005 11:11:46 AM

If only someone would integrate it with the Google Maps GPS. Then I would gladly pay $100-$200.

by Tankko | Jul 28, 2005 12:03:24 PM

Does anyone know why apps can't get access to the E911 GPS in the phone? Seems like if they are going to track my every movement, they might as well give me access to the data for applications like this.

by Jayant | Jul 28, 2005 1:35:02 PM

I wrote a J2ME (MIDP) API for connecting to GPS receivers using bluetooth. J9 uses a non J2ME naming convention for the ports. I got around this. On my Treo 650, the connection is made to the port, but I need to do a soft reset to release the connections.

Maybe once I have this working, I will share it with everyone on my website.

by Calroth | Jul 28, 2005 7:06:52 PM

I'd be surprised if Google lets this go a long time without issuing a cease-and-desist. They don't like other programs using their map data.

It's not likely that these mapping programs will "hurt" Google Maps, but it's a precedent thing - let these apps through, and it's a green light for anybody to make a Google Maps ripoff program using Google's data.

by Calroth | Jul 28, 2005 7:12:34 PM

As an addendum to the above:

Keep in mind what Google's aims are with Google Maps. From our point of view, Google Maps is there to provide us cool, usable maps so we can see where we are going. From Google's point of view, Google Maps is there to sell advertising. Now they don't have much (if any) advertising there yet - but they will certainly have it in future! Third-party apps using Google Maps data will interfere with this, that's why Google doesn't want them.

by mitch119 | Jul 29, 2005 2:29:10 PM

I prefer accessing Google Local from the mobile version... Sure it's in beta, but it works great: it returns a list of matches, shows the matches on a map, and you can also dial directly from the result. I just search on "ZIP: [name]" from the Google prompt with "Local" selected and usually get accurate results on the first try. Works great on my Treo 600 - no extra software or Java virtual machine necessary. I'm not holding my breath for satellite images, because the resolution is too low on the 600 to be much good.

URL is: www.google.com/xhtml

by Jeff Lorber | Jul 31, 2005 5:57:04 PM

i couldn't get the save feature to work. also going to the zoom hung up the program.

by Taggy | Aug 2, 2005 2:48:38 PM

I can't download the zip file from the site.

by mikey | Aug 2, 2005 10:48:48 PM

I followed the instructions for installing KMaps (java then KMaps) with no success. When I start KMaps it prompts for email and password then hangs waiting for a connection.
I am using a cingular Treo 650 with the updated Palm OS. Has anyone seen this?

by Ivan | Aug 5, 2005 12:01:19 PM

New, 1.1 version of KMaps is available for download. Full offline map capability and Location Based Services included. www.alealea.com

by Ambar | Aug 8, 2005 2:07:23 PM

I have installed both applications but still every search i do comes back as no match found! help!
[email protected]

by Ivan | Aug 8, 2005 11:49:41 PM

Install the latest version from www.alealea.com

by Hoovs | Aug 11, 2005 5:54:02 PM

Thanks for the great app. Quick question: I've downloaded 1.2.1 but when I try to get traffic info it freezes at the hour glass. I only installed the KMaps prc, do I need either of the other prc files for traffic info?

Thanks again. Remember us when you're rich and famous.

by amulya | Aug 12, 2005 3:00:38 AM

i think it is a killer application. i am really looking forward to when they are able to connect it to the contact database and also to the third-party traffic info database

by Elena | Aug 12, 2005 5:18:02 PM

Hi. Does anyone know if this KMaps application would be of interest to business people at all? I'm an associate editor at InformationWeek and writing a feature story on wireless mapping technology. I'm trying to find some users of applications like KMaps and Mobile GMaps to tell me what they think about these apps on their mobile devices: whether they offer a lot of benefits or have a lot of pitfalls. If anyone is interested in participating in my article, please send me an email. The deadline is August 16th. Many thanks!

by Elena | Aug 12, 2005 5:21:24 PM

If you click on my name under this posting, you should be able to send me an email.

by Jud | Nov 10, 2005 8:39:52 AM

Here's a way to install Google's official mobile map application.


by Nicky | Aug 9, 2006 9:08:45 PM

Any word on this being available for the 700p?

by Duane Aubin | Oct 13, 2006 2:04:35 PM

Google's response appears to be the offering of their own flavour of Google Maps...


I've installed it, very cool. For all intents and purposes, this will suffice for the majority of my GPS needs, for now.

by Jason | Oct 27, 2006 12:40:31 AM

I recently downloaded google maps two days ago, and loved it. But now two days later I wish I would of never installed it. My treo 650 will no longer power on most of the time. If it does happen to power on then it will freeze before it ever reaches the app manager. So now I am out a treo. Thanks GOOGLE

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