Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wi-Not Mobile: A Different Pocket PC Freeware Application

[This article discusses a new freeware application for Windows Mobile devices, in the creation of which I feel excited to have participated. It is called Wi-Not Mobile and can be found in this site]

You may have noticed for some time the link on the right. It points to a new mobile platform we built, a limited number of talented professionals and me. Starting with silly little ideas, it quickly grew to integrate some research results of our personal projects. The result was Wi-Not Mobile, a mobile platform for information, communication and entertainment. Wi-Not Mobile is a freeware pocket pc application and you can find it here. It is on air for a week now and with limited or now advertising has far exceeded 1000 registered users and many more downloads. Here is a small tribute to this one-year full time effort and some technical details for those who are interested.

For a quick introduction here is a Youtube video, which tries to describe Wi-Not Mobile in 4 minutes:

We have received so much feedback, both good and bad and I feel really intrigued in trying to understand how others view this application and we are so enthusiastic we really see criticism as an opportunity. It may sound typical but it is true. Here is my understanding.

First of all, Wi-Not mobile is not an application. It is a platform and there is a perfect reason for that. The platform is a more general concept and solves much more difficult problems than an application. Wi-Not's platform defines a basic API which we later use to create all different functions that exist inside. Let's iterate through the various features to show how.

Wi-Not Mobile offers free web TV streams for your Pocket PC, but also the client to consume it. If we were limited to this (like tons of other popular TV playing programs) then Wi-Not would be an application. But we are not. TV streams in Wi-Not Mobile are updated automatically whenever there is an available new version of the TV channels. The same holds for the web radio streams found in Wi-Not Mobile. This alone does make an excuse for the term 'platform' but the story is not over yet.

The Instant Messaging module of Wi-Not is a clean and efficient way to exchange messages. Of course it was not built to compete with already popular mobile IM clients (MSN Mobile and others). But there is something special inside that is actually a function that the underlying platform can support. It enables for automatic translation. For example, a user can define that he writes in Spanish, his friend define that he reads in Italian, and still be able to communicate in their native languages, a feature that at least for now cannot be found in any other IM mobile client.

Moving on to entertainment portion, we arrive to what we tenderly call "Wi-Lol". There is another trick here. What it can do? You simply type the game you want to play, and the module (using the platform's middeware) will locate free and available flash games to play in your mobile. The difference with other similar functions is that we do not store a single byte of game content. So how is it done? The platform defines a search API, which can have many "flavors" (inheritance in programming words), and these can be a web search, game search, or a music search. Each of these kinds share some common properties (base class) but in the meantime have many differences. The game search module of the Wi-Not locates flash files and reports back available links. With the embedded flash player it is possible to play it on the fly!

There is also a great option for getting music on your pocket pc. We have put there a special media finder, which can accept keywords for your search and locate audio files. This is entirely new for a mobile application. Again, we do not store a single byte of audio content. With a hit rate of around 90% you will able to get the mp3 file you were looking for. Again the platform here plays the most crucial role. It is able to maintain places that are more probable to provide with an answer and also to dynamically find more.

I could really talk for hours about this stuff but I am sure it will bore most of the people. There are certainly many more posts coming about this effort. We are really excited about the outcome and ready to do more. There are also many hard lessons from releasing into public your creations and perhaps I should talk about it later.

Till then you are more than welcome to download Wi-Not Mobile from here and I would be grateful if you could provide with your thoughts about it. Have fun!