Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

What Can You Do with the Mobile Web? Mobile Web Applications

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

What Can You Do with the Mobile Web? Mobile Web Applications

Article excerpt

The mobile Web opens up a world of knowledge that can be accessed on the go by shoppers, travelers, readers, listeners, and news hounds with an information need. It's now possible to listen to an audiobook on the commute to work, catch highlights of last night's game, issue a text message to a roster of 20 friends, find out when the next bus will arrive, or listen to satellite radio. This chapter summarizes many of the activities in which mobile Web users are currently engaged and will hopefully provide inspiration for either developing library-related services or increasing personal productivity.

Some of these applications may not seem pertinent to libraries, and many of them won't be right for your library in particular. But, just as with Web 2.0 and other new technologies, having a picture of the landscape at large and knowing how industries are making use of these mobile technologies can be invaluable in sparking new ideas and initiatives. Innovation in any arena is built upon a foundation of knowledge. For instance, the mobile Web has spawned several new food-ordering services that enable regulars to avoid long lines by texting in advance requests for their favorites. How great would it be for patrons to be able to do something similar with libraries? One university library is already making it possible for students and researchers to check on the availability of lab computers while on their way to the library. Why not take it one step further and allow them to reserve a station while commuting so that when they arrive they don't have to wait or sign onto a list? Start to consider how you might apply some of these emerging services in your own environment.


Anytime access to e-mail is a convenience for personal exchanges and an absolute necessity for business use. Web-based e-mail accounts can be accessed by visiting corresponding mobile Web sites. However, the method of choice for mobile users is "push" e-mail (see figure 7). Push functionality delivers e-mail messages directly to a user's mobile phone, eliminating the need to browse to a client and collect it. As new messages are delivered, the user is immediately notified that a new message is waiting.

Push e-mail is available on most of today's smartphones, PDAs, and iPhones. Users may configure several types of mail accounts on their device: POP3 or IMAP for personal e-mail, such as Yahoo! (see figure 8) or AOL Mail accounts; Microsoft Exchange Server or Good Mobile Messaging for accessing corporate e-mail; and Research In Motion's BlackBerry e-mail. If your phone does not have this type of functionality built in, you can install it yourself by downloading an application, such as emoze or the open-source Funambol, that will enable you to push e-mail as well as sync your contacts and calendars.



E-Mail Links

Yahoo/Mail Mobile



AOL Mail Mobile


Windows Live Hotmail



Text Messaging

Sending and receiving text messages is by far the most popular data activity for cell phone owners, with 42% of U.S. adults with a cell phone engaged in the activity. (1) Indeed, Jupiter Research studies have discovered that 40% of mobile users aged 15 to 24 send more than 10 SMS messages per day? In addition to sending text messages to friends and contacts, participants in this mainstream mobile activity enjoy a host of ways to take advantage of the easy-to-use SMS technology (see figure 9). Mobile device owners can vote for their favorites on reality TV shows such as American Idol and Make Me a Supermodel; sign up for news alerts from an array of Web sites, including the Weather Channel and ESPN; and even text a search term to Google or Yahoo! …

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