tataqualcommTata Indicom has launched Quickfinder service with maps, navigation and location awareness. It announced plans with Qualcomm in September last year but has commercially deployed the service only now.

The service is limited to the Blackberry 8830 World Edition and MotoRAZR V3; those who already own these handsets can upgrade them for free. For the MotoRazr, if the software version is not ‘GATW218_05.05.00R’, then you need to upgrade it.

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Tata Indicom will launch this service in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Ahmedabad in the first phase.

Assisted-GPS By Qualcomm

CDMA behemoth Qualcomm has provided the A-GPS chipsets for the 2 mobiles. The company’s proprietary QPoint location based solution and gpsOne chips used here are already in 300 million handsets worldwide.

Assisted-GPS pinpoints the user’s position and fixes on it within seconds. The company claims that it is not expected to be power-hungry and will reduce power usage and costs. A-GPS is largely a GPS-based technology but falls back on other methods (Advanced Forward Link Trilateration) to determine indoor locations.

Location Accuracy Inside Buildings

So it is not just GPS which will be used to capture the position of the handset.  Advanced Forward Link Trilateration is unique to CDMA – it works by measuring the phase delay between signals sent to two towers and comparing them to the same data from a different pair, according to Unstrung. This will be used to locate users in sub-optimal environments such as in large buildings. We have asked the company how accurate this tracking is and will update the post with the answer.

This is similar to triangulation or GSM localization which traces back the cell phone’s location using network signals. By comparing the signals from 3 nearest towers that are constantly communicating with the handset, you can accurately fix the user’s location without requiring GPS. But here it is being used as an assisting technology rather than a replacement.

Maps And Voice Driving Directions

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Users can download the Quickfinder Maps application from the Tata Zone WAP site. The maps offers points of interest and landmarks – ATMs, restaurants, hotels, etc. You can then use the Navigator application to obtain driving directions to these spots.

Quickfinder Navigator is a voice application that offers turn-by-turn directions for cars. It will not work for bus routes, trains or walking. Interestingly, it displays not just the distance travelled but also the speed. Users can also plot a new route that is not dependent on their current location. Ironically, the operator’s terms and conditions require that Quickfinder Navigator users “agree not to use the Software at the same time as you drive any motorized vehicle or authorize any Authorized User to do the same.” That beats the whole purpose of a GPS, doesn’t it?

Location-Based Search

Navigator also offers a location-based search for businesses. It stores a list of the last 10 locations used within the application and the user can also add bookmarks. With the A-GPS, the user will also know exactly where he/she is standing with the current location indicated on a map.

Remember that all this data transfer for GPS locations, maps, routes, real-time driving directions and searches will need a good GPRS package or you may end up with a big hole in your pocket.

SMS Integration

The application is also integrated with text messaging so users will also be able to send an SMS directly to anyone in their phonebook about their location or any of the points of interest shown on the map. This feature is only available for those with Moto Razr handsets.

SatGuide LCU

SatNav, a Sequoia Capital and Times Private Treaties company, also recently launched a voice and SMS based navigation service called SatGuide LCU. After piloting the service with Reliance in Andhra Pradesh, it has now been rolled out pan-India.

It has set up a call centre with trained agents who will offer directions on call and will also send SMSs with driving directions to mobile phones. More on the launch here. This service is network agnostic and is more mass-market as it does not require any handset upgrade.

Enterprise

Tata Indicom is also offering location based services for enterprises under the Quickfinder banner, such as  real-time vehicle tracking and monitoring of fleet of any size from anywhere, anytime via the Internet, SMS or the call centre.

Pricing (End User Segment)

Navigator – Rs 200 per month.
Maps – Rs 50 per month on a Moto Razr and Rs 100 on a BlackBerry. Is there a quality difference that justifies the higher price?

Location Based Services

With the launch of this service Tata Indicom is setting the foundation for more location based services such as geotagging, which prints your location on photos taken by your cameraphone; local weather and traffic alerts; m-coupons and m-payments; friend finder-like location-based social networking.

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