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Toolkit Available For WAP programming 107

mge writes: "According to this story in some local Aussie IT pages, Nokia is looking for developers to make online games for mobile phones and it has established R&D centres in Helsinki, Belgrade and Sydney to provide content for the company's new mobile entertainment centre. There's a WAP Client Toolkit, Game Construction Toolkit, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), documentation and sample source code for applications to download. An Australian company, Fluffy Spider Technologies, is also offering assistance to game developers. They have posted free code online for a simple Tic Tac Toe game. Of course, they want games, but how about automated dial-ins (to take advantage of lower call/ISP rates), smart forms etc ... " Well someone needs to start giving all our smart phones something to think about, eh?
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Toolkit Available For WAP programming

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wow. It's hell on the roads right now because of people talking on the phone instead of paying attention to what they are doing. And now.... video games on a cell phone? I am afraid.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm going to get the kit and start right away! I've got plenty of ideas for games....

    "Super Battery Waster"

    Help Nickle Cadmium and her sidekick, Sparky, find the power source before she loses her only communication line!

    "Roaming Fee"

    Collect returnable cans to pay your phone bill! Avoid unfair competition from professional homeless people, take vengeance on nasty store owners who refuse to give deposits on your cans, and try to score with environmentally minded chicks who will be impressed by your recycling efforts - and your super cool tiny phone (which means a big you know what!) Miss too many payments, and watch your credit rating burn to ashes!

    "Super Battery Waster 2"

    Nickle must find the power source again, as it is worn out and leaking toxic goop all over all sorts of expensive electronics! Help save her peaceful land of BoardTrace! Avoid the Radio Shack Super-Secret Battery Purchaser Tracking Database!

    "Adventures of Block and Square"

    An 8-bit classic game, updated for the modern cellular phone screen! Includes network multiplayer for a small free of $49.95 a month - that's less than $50! You could earn that money in a DAY, and spend the whole other 29 playing it! So don't be a cheapass, get "Adventures of Block and Square" today!

    "Memory Effect"

    A challenging logical puzzle which will keep you amused for days on end! Keep all your portable devices in good working condition by carefully scheduling charges, trickles, and drain periods in between your busy schedule of work and social life! When you lose all your amp-hours, you will lose your job and all your friends because you won't be able to keep in touch with them! Then you'll have to kill yourself! So be careful......

    Also coming soon...

    Coverage Area, Beep and Boop Sing The ABC's, and 1-900-STABLELASTINGRELATIONSHIP!

  • ... here in sweden kids already have mobile
    phones.. so I guess they want games as well..
    "One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad
  • _|_|_

    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • "Although Nokia and Ericsson are members of the Symbian group, which has developed the open-source EPOC operating system, all of the WAP applications are developed in a Windows environment, ensuring as many developers as possible can create them."

    Doh! EPOC is not open source. This paragraph implies that if a project is not on Windows, or is open source, then it is harder for developers to get their hands on. This ignorance makes me wonder if the rest of the story holds water.

    Barry de la Rosa,
    tel. +44 (0)7092 005700

  • That's not a prediction, they announced it over 8 months ago:,1510,126 04,00.html
  • by san ( 6716 )
    Why would any company want to do anything in Belgrade, let alone starting a R&D center?
  • The limiting factors for WAP devices by and large aren't processor power, so Moore's law doesn't apply. The two major factors are screen size and network speed.

    Network speed shouldn't be much of a limiting factor for games like Backgammon. Given that mobile delivery of audio and video is planned for a few years hence, the bandwidth for playing Quake doesn't look so impossible.

    As to screen size, colour is almost here and flexible semiconductors as well, so having a 6x4-inch (15x10cm) unrollable screen (2x4 (5x10) rolled up) in your 'phone is a realistic expectation.

    Quake in 320x200 at first. Maybe later we clip the phone to the dashboard or bus seat and project a HUD onto the glass. With an aync ARM CPU and async ARMified version of the Voodoo 5000, you should get 10, maybe 15 minutes before the battery dies. (-:
  • hat would be something to do on the bus, or a
    new way to crash your car. I wonder if microsoft will write there own products if wap takes off.

    "Where do you want to go today? That wall over there? Consider it done!" (-:

    Given how enthusiastic they are to crash your computer, I can't see how MS could resist an opportunity to crash your car as well. It would kind of get back at Lee Iacocca for his nasty rebuttal to Bill's "if cars were like computers" speech if MS could get cars up to crashing twice a day... and the market for SensiPeril Blue windscreens would soar... General Pedestrian Fault? (-:
  • I'm not going to buy a phone that will be outdated and incompatible with newer products in just a few months (like the Nokia 7110).

    Also, they should seriously consider making an Open Source toolkit available for Unix if they want more support...

  • _|_|_

  • Maybe with their clout they can actually carry through with a GameBoy emulator!

    Though personally, I think that 'snakes & apples' game is sufficient for most of the cell-phone users, since they (& me!) mostly complain about short battery life -- and this ain't gonna help!


  • > Why do they choose WAP? Quite simply there is no
    > other set of protocols that more adequately
    > addresses the issues involved in deploying
    > applications over the wireless networks they
    > have spent all their money on.

    Ever hear of Imode? It's likely to blow the doors off the WAP standard. Practically exponential growth here in Japan.
  • My basic complaint is the premise. On the one hand we see a whole new type of device with legions of people trying to figure out how to make efficient GUIs while conserving either display space, or storage, or whatnot with WAP ...and on the other hand we have multi-zillion dollar companies building infrastructure and vastly powerful processors, that will render the need for "efficiency" as irrelevant as my 2gb hard drive.

    My prediction is that we are going to Moore's Law WAP to death in short order ("I'd like 'The Patently Obvious' for $400, Alex")

    WAP will become obsolete. It'll actually converge with internet technologies as a whole. But that doesn't mean it is useless now. We're a long way off (years) before the wireless networks can deliver the same amount of bandwidth that, say, a DSL line delivers to people's home today. It doesn't make sense for content companies to just sit and wait for WAP to fade away -- the potential size of the WAP market is too huge.
  • Nokia is in Finland. They started out making boots and other things over 150 years ago. ;-)
  • I'm not so sure that bandwidth is a limiting factor. The transport protocols of WAP may well be superseded in the next year and a half.

    However, WML, the markup language, will be useful for some time to come. The reason for that is simple: screen size.

    A typical phone has maybe two to three square inches of screen size, the NeoPoint being a notable exception. On devices that size, there's no way you're going to get full-fledged HTML to look like anything but crap. Display technology is irrelevant to this - you can't make text smaller than a certain size without making it unreadable.

    Therefore, if you want your content to look good on a mobile, you're going to need to reformat it anyway. Might as well use WML while you're at it.


  • I find many WAP sites don't work with the 7110, maybe 20 per cent or so - it's not a well defined/implemented standard at present.

    Looking through the logs of the WAP site my company operates (, I have noticed that the Nokia 7110 phone is the only phone out of the dozens we've had hits from that doesn't send an x-up-subno header - so if sites are doing tracking and don't have good error handling, the lack of said header could prevent them from working for you.
  • 3G will probably have enough coverage (in Europe at least) to make it worthwhile in a couple of years.

    The thing is, it's not that doing things in WAP is hard.. it's that it's either reasonably straightforward or literally impossible.

    You try designing any practical puzzle game for WAP. To make a move, you have to fill in a bunch of submit forms. It's practically useless.
  • You can start it on Windows machine (but I recommend using emulator too - it's simpliest installation) and run it over VNC. Also, is good idea to use XML validator (xmlparse).
    You want to see REAL wap service? [] (click on "TADY" to go though, it's in Czech so far).
    The service is not finished yet, the "photos" are from Stileproject ;), there will be real photos soon.
  • The browser (used in Motorola & Siemens phones) is using ugly fixed-size fonts, but works without crashes. Yes, it's good idead to test all WML in it too, cause it renders some things differently than Nokia :).
  • 6250 is not on the market yet. Maybe in Q3 ;)? You might mean 6150, which is for more than year old.
  • Have you built some site in WML? I see some part of WML "unlucky choosen" if not completelly broken. Example, this code in HTML for entering some value on the page in PHP script - in HTML, it's one cycle, in WML, you need TWO cycles:
    HTML (shortened):
    <input name=a[1]> <input name=a[2]> <form>
    WML (some ' omited):
    <input name=a1>
    <input name=a2> <anchor>submit<go href=p>
    <postfield name=a[1] value=$(a1) />
    <postfield name=a[2] value=$(a2) />
  • now you can play quake (albiet the TI version) on you Nokia against the people on the train... hopefully not the driver...
    Laptop006 (RHCE: That means I know what I'm talking about!)
    Melbourne, Australia

  • I do. Text will be text. Future clients will ofc. support all sorts of functionality, the current prototypes have two way live video streaming - but if I need to find some information, I don't want to watch a movie, I want to read the text. There will always be text support. HTML/WML doesn't necessarily mean that the pages are static, you know that. They have their limitations, correct, but can coexist with the technologies you seem to think about.

    Personally, I believe WAP is going to be around for only a brief period of time, but I reckon that another markup language will replace it, rather than flash movies and what have we.

  • I've been through much the same process recently. What helped me a lot, was Nokia's toolkit. Too bad you have to go through so much in order to get it to run Linux. The toolkit for debugging (don't you just love those "No reply from gateway" and "Page could not be showed" messages? ;).
    I think the engineers got stressed to release the phones ASAP and that resulted in the different ways they render WML. Since when was a table supposed to be showed as a single column?? That sucks, it's damned marketing and sales again!
    As for caching, argh. Everybody who has done a little server side content generation knows what a pain caching clients is. Whoever designed these phones could have been more aware of that. Let's be able to turn it off via WMLScript based on URL, puh-lease. You can set newcontext="true" in your cards, but I'm not yet convinced that it works in all phones. Actually, I'm not yet convinced that anything works in all phones.

    One thing that I found really helpful, were the emulators at YoSpace [], they're the best emulators I've come across, by far.

  • Damn, I'm even better than I thought ;)

  • Telus finally launched their web-phone service in BC and Alberta, probably Ontario later this year. Includes a "go to" on the phone's menu. Problem: their phones are using HDML, the transitional technology leading up to the transitional technology which is WAP, so the feature is not incredibly useful.

    Part of the beauty of wireless for the service vendor is that they can guarantee captive eyeballs, since it is relatively difficult for users to change the "default home page" in their phone, and even if free-form URLs can be entered into the handset, it is relatively difficult to do that as well. So, they now have valuable advertising properties in the form of top slots on the phone's menu for your company.

    Wireless internet through phones is definitely not the internet as we know it.

  • Why do we need another standard?? Surely providing a suitable DOM and XSLT specification for XML would be enough. And for gods sake why not just bite the bullet and put a JVM on these phones? And if the CPUs aren't powerful enough.. Then make a phone with a decent friggin CPU. If you can sell an i-Opener for US$99, a Playstation for US$100, surely you can sell a US$200 phone that has an equivalent processor in it. I am thoroughly unimpressed with WAP, especially with the patents etc. I would think that using HTTP and javascript over a wireless link (which has been around for years before WAP) constituted prior art in a big way. IMHO, its basically irrelevant. If i need to port my HTML stuff to WAP, well, i'll cross that bridge when i come to it, becuase it seems like it will be a totally trivial task, and not actually worth my attention till my customers actually want it. Theres nothing compelling about surfing the web on a 1" screen, and its even less compelling playing gay-ass games like tic-tac-toe. Maybe something like a color palmpilot with a decent size screen on one side, a phone keypad/mic/earpiece (with separate LCD) on the other side would suit me quite nicely, but a crappy Nokia cellular with a tic-tac-toe game?? uh, nope..
  • or a frontend to whatever scripts you wanted to set up?
  • no. is using a non standard header. nokia is following the specs (sometimes). the x-sub-no comes from the gateway anyway, and if you dont know what that is, RTFM.
  • Most developers I've spoken to say this, though: "It's not worth getting into WAP. Let's wait for 3G".

    ANybody who thinks there is going to be significant 3G coverage in Europe and the US before 2005 is being rather optimisitc.

    Nokia can't make WAP phones fast enough. But hey, if companies want to stay behind, waiting for the next big thing, because WAP is too hard for their poor programmers, well, I guess someone else will be there to tap that market.

  • There is a good article in DDJ july 2000 on creating WAP Services.
  • And the absolute last thing they need is their own scripting language. Do we give them their own cars just because they're too stupid to drive regular cars? Do we give them rubber gloves because they're too stupid to wipe their own ass? No, we make them get their stupid-cars and rubber-gloves their own damn selves. And they can make their own stupid scripting language too.
  • A rubberized, ruggedized, waterproof cell phone. Call it the "sport phone"; maybe make it bright yellow. Teenagers and outdoor workers need it; many others would buy it. Eliminate the need for a carrying case to protect the thing. Radios, cordless phones, and walkie-talkies are available like that, but for some reason, not cell phones.

    Really? []

    And it's been out for a year now, I almost bought one myself. You may, however, be correct in that such phones may not exist for the US market -- the 6250 is GSM 900/1800 only.

    -j. (a former Nokia employee, but glad to be out)

  • I'm another person who's been part of a
    development team working on a medium-sized WAP
    application. In our case, it's a mail connector
    (at the moment).

    Does WAP "suck"? Depends what you want from it.
    There are certainly hurdles - Nokia and UP phones
    have quite different navigation styles, and a good
    application will want to play to the strengths of
    each phone. There are problems with deck lengths,
    encodings, different gateways choking bizarrely.

    On the other hand, as a consumer - I rather like
    being able to read email practically wherever I
    am, and reply in a primitive fashion if need be.
    I rather like having Colossal Cave available at
    any time - or Hangman, or a crossword solver.

    No, it's not Quake or anything like that, but
    that doesn't stop it from being useful.

    WAP may well not be the future - but it's a viable
    present. I'd say that any company betting that
    WAP will be used much in 10 years is shortsighted
    - but while it's here, let's make the most of it.

    I haven't looked at the Nokia toolkits yet, but I
    *hope* they're able to produce "cross-platform"
    WML. Yes, WML is meant to be standard, but we all
    know how "standard" HTML is, for example. The same
    bit of WML can look radically different on
    different browsers. I *hope* the Nokia toolkits
    have a way of dealing with this, rather than just
    targetting the 7110. We'll see.

  • Face it, trying to do anything useful via one or two square inches of screen real estate is sheer misery.

    Ah but soon enough we'll have phones with more than one or two square inches. According to my T3, Ericsson are bringing out a new one shortly where the whole front of the phone is LCD, mostly covered when not in use by a flipping bit with the numbers on. You could get a good read of a decent WAP/HTML web page on it.

    A rubberized, ruggedized, waterproof cell phone.

    Too late, Ericsson already have one of those. I think some of the other manufacturers do too?

  • To WAP...or not. (Note: IANA Designer, so YMMV)

    It might be a good idea to note that, in Japan, NTT's i-mode service uses Compact HTML rather than WAP, and commands about 7-7.5 million users (dwarfing the other two carriers combined, and about equal to the top two ISPs). Of the ten million phones with IP out there (here, whatever) at the moment, 1-2 million are wapped.

    Right now I'm hearing fairly strong interest on the XHTML front, and more and more skepticism on WAP--heard the old saw "Where Are the Phones" from a DoCOMo guy the other day...

    In the interest of fairness, however, it should also be noted that the venture that I am working for is looking to develop in both WAP and compact HTML, at least until market development is a little bit more clear. Cheers, jimbud in Tokyo

  • Um, doesn't API stand for abstract programming interface??
  • Are you serious a K7 aka Athlon??? The chip with the friggin' fourty Watt power consumption??
  • _|_|_

    Interesting idea. Too bad I don't have any moderator points. Someone else can be "0" after this , tho. Sorry if the grid doesn't line up right - preview got me a 404.

    You know, I never understood the appeal of having games and such on a telephone. I mean, I'll bet there are cell-phones on the market that play MP3s, but I doubt any have AM/FM radios. Just a competition to be the owner of the coolest stuff?


  • Imagine being able to frag your friends in an exciting game of multiplayer snake on your 5110/3210/XXXX. Can we port quake3A to the Palm IIIC to? What a waste of time.

  • Actually, you can surf the web on cell phones using Bell's digital service. I've got the Qualcomm 2760 and I can get slashdot on it. Of course, attempting to read a single post 2 words per line can get annoying...not to mention trying to traverse a graphically-laid out website in text mode that's worse than Lynx! Yikes...I just use it for stock quotes and sports scores.
  • I like the pen idea. I'd probably get asked a lot, "Um... Why does your phone have teeth marks on it?" If it could write as well... what if you could dial/commit to speed-dial a number by writing it on paper? (or in the air, or on your palm-pilot scribble area....)

    I'm sorry, but I'm having a difficult time getting over how cool that would be... I could stick my phone behind my ear... make interchangeable roller-ball/stylus/mech-pencil/chalk tips, and expand your usable areas... (chalk for cell-phone clad carpet installers/construction, etc.)

    Nobody else may embrace that idea, but I think it's cool...
  • Mmm ... rollable screen. Can't wait to be playing Quake on someone's t-shirt in 5 years time.
  • Anyone else think a MU* client would be perfect on a cell phone? It's text-based, multiplayer, allows chat, the whole bit.

    And I could go for telnet on a cell, too

    Zardoz has spoken!
  • Perfectly right! There is no opensourced video-streaming-protocol, and no opensourced protocol for any interactive experience... this sounds bad! Where will the world head to?
  • Does the dev software matter?
    No, it's closed source, WinNT only. Very stupid license (AFAIR). Costs heaps of money.

    Does the client software matter?
    No, reference running on WinCE *only*. Costs on "case-by-case" basis.

    Does WAP matter?
    No, in 9 months there will be phones that have the displays and the computing power to do HTML. IP space is private to the provider who masqs them to the internet or they use ipv6.

    Above all: Why is this story on slashdot ?
    The news is old. The software is available for years now. Nothing about it is open-source or connected to Linux or *BSD. Did I miss something ?
  • - Right now there just isn't very much random WAP content available, so there is no point in a "goto URL" feature.

    How can there be random content when there's simply no way of accessing it?

    Personally I'd love to be able to do a script hack and try it out but I can't, not on a phone anyway.

    WAP would benefit massively from a way for the average man to try out new ideas and solutions. In the time it takes phone operators to come up with one decent application, the public would have come up with a hundred, each more suited to their needs than the operatrs could ever think up.

    Of course then they'd loose the leverage - such a shame.

  • I assume that someone else will post a similar complaint before I hit "submit", but still...

    I can see it now. Some schmoe gets in a wreck because he's playing with his phone.

    "I swear officer, I had the high score!"

    Dammit, my mom is not a Karma whore!

  • Wow, I got my weather forecast right before I left for work, in about 1 second and with no per-call charges. Let's hope the weather doesn't change too much in the next twenty minutes!

    .. and, hey, watch out for those open manholes. ;)

  • It would be cool if they made them with memory chips and you could download a new game/program from you home pc everynight. That would be something to do on the bus, or a new way to crash your car. I wonder if microsoft will write there own products if wap takes off.
  • I have already seens some phones with games on them. While I was at a movie theatre just this weekend, I was watching the advertisements before the movie previews, and I noticed the guy in front of me playing that worm game, where you move you worm around obstacles without you running into a part of your own worm. After about 10 minutes of him playing that, he actualy got a call, and pressed a few buttons, and answered it! Then, when he was done talking, he started playing that worms game again. The theatre was pretty dark, so I couldnt tell you the name or model of the phone, but it was pretty damned nice, had a back-lit display, obviously, it has sound producing capabilities, so MP3 playing cell phones would be relatively easy to produce, since thier design already incorporates sound producing capabilities, with headphones, or the built in earpiece. If you ask me, this is a great time to be alive!

    Systems Administrator
    Servu Networks
  • Bull.. I work for a cell company and we have wireless internet already... and the bandwith is equivelant to a fractional T3... For any given user... The technology is already here... and easily obtainable...
  • How about a web server the size of your phone?
  • Think of it from the companies point of view: They've already got the public (case in point = you) thinking:

    business = cellular, cellular = business

    Now one half of that equation is great but the other half is restrictive. What if they could get people thinking "cells are fun, cells are cool, kids like cells, kids want cells!" Keeping in mind that in Finland where Nokia originated, there are more cells than people or some crazy stat like that and in Europe in general a good deal of their traffic is ring tone trading, banner message sending (ie novelty cell features). Now in North America where we seem to be a couple years behind the times when it comes to cell phones and social integration, so what better way to tap into the huge youth market who arent afraid of technology and usually have some amount of expendable income? Why add more games and entertainment features to your phones of course!
  • ick. Now that would definately be a bad thing. Getting all those bills from calling some remote island off the coast of Africa at 3 in the morning everyday.
    Bradford L.
  • _|O|_ []
    O|X|_ []
    |X| []

    Yu Suzuki

  • _|_|_
    [] O|_|_
    [] |X| []

    Yu Suzuki

  • Are they trying to attract the kids in Adults?

    Or are they focussing on kids to buy their cell-phones on their own....( they'd better buy that Sony PS2).

    Or they are trying to experiment with WAP to somehow get something out of the thing?

    Perhaps nobody told them the real things about WAP!

  • Toilet paper used to be their most popular product. :)
  • Ever try creating a wap page? no, well it sucks. crate one page and it looks and behaves completely different on the nokia browser compared the the browser. shouldn't these companies havelearned from the IE/Netscape mess that this is a BAD THING!
  • You, sir, are a dik-dik.

    You're welcome.
  • In Norway, one has to have a handsfree set if you wanna talk while driving. They outlawed talking into the phone....
  • So, Nokia isn't happy with their snake games, and matching cards any more eh?

    I can see it now... The new Nokia PSX.
    It's a phone, it's a console, it's got an awesome 3D rendering engine for it's pixely lcd screen.

    Perhaps if they try hard enough, and fit a little of that "matchbox server" tech into it, I can play Gran Turismo 2, while talking to a judge about traffic tickets, and driving on the freeway.

    There are plenty of other areas that Nokia could focus their resources for improvements. Come on... Do we really play games with the cell phones? Right before we turn on our high end PC's and bypass Quake III for /. Perhaps we even display duality, and play with both at once.

    Give me a break. The only useful thing the "games" do is kill time between meetings when you're sitting on the couch. We don't need more games.

    Get the lead out, and give me a 16 bit display, complete with a true OS, and a touchpad screen... That would rock... (And be very difficult to read too...) Maybe then I'll own a cellular laptop.

  • _|_|_

    (me need to type here to avoid lameness filter) =P

  • 0|0|0

    Only if 0 doesn't cheat.

  • Nintendo started out making playing cards....
  • "I took a bitchslapping for natalie portman"

    What is a bitchslapping?

    Who is natalie portman, and what is this fascination? I'd rather not have to find out by visiting tawdry fan-sites.....


  • I believe the official slashdotian position on this subject has already been handed down by Alan Cox []. :-)

    To paraphrase : "WAP Sucks".

    Free Music []
  • Phones that can access normal websites would be nice, but how useful would they be? My Palm IIIx has a web browser and native IP, but unless the sites have been reformatted for PDA use, they are basically unusable - too much horizontal+vertical scrolling. So in practice, reformatting/filtering gateways are essential.

    UK WAP pricing is not too bad - 5 pence (= 7.5 US cents) per minute from Orange, and that's after you've exhausted the bundled minutes that month. However, it's very easy to end up with 10 minute calls, largely due to the crap text input via the keypad - I really want to see stylus input with Palm's Graffiti or something very similar.

    In fact, the Palm format may win in the end - just use a Bluetooth-connected earpiece, and maybe voice-activated dialling, and you can use any PDA format you like, since you'll normally just use the earpiece, with your PDA/phone in your pocket or bag. This would address the large screen issue as well as text input - my Palm screen is much more usable for WAP browsing, and I can enter a URL much quicker than on my Nokia 7110 WAP phone.

    I find many WAP sites don't work with the 7110, maybe 20 per cent or so - it's not a well defined/implemented standard at present.
  • It may be a dead end, but I find it useful for limited things that I have already bookmarked - e.g. I got the weather forecast for London today as I was walking in to work, and the whole call lasted 18 seconds including connect time, i.e. cost of approx 7 cents US.
  • Typing URLs is a pain, true, but being able to create bookmarks to arbitrary sites is essential - particularly if you can beam them from a Palm (I can already beam address book entries between the Nokia and the Palm, why not bookmarks?).

    Google's service for WAP is very impressive - combined search engine and HTML to WML gateway.
  • I don't care about the government tracking my cell phone very much considering its really expensive to use the equipment needed to triangulate a mobile phone. If I reall'y want to be sneaky I won't need some Unix-like OS on my phone I'll just pull out the battery. I know, I ought to be a spy. The only real problem with "open sourcing" a mobile phone is to figure out what is doing what on the inside of the phone. Anyone with some experience with microcircuitry and radio can do that with some effort and the right tools (the right tools being specification docs from Motorola). Then of course you need to port Linux to it which is a rather dumb idea. A monolithic kernel with protected memory? Sure. How about you bust out a teeny tiny RTOS like QNX for your dirty hax0r needs. Most phones have the capability of "checking on phone networks" back in the day this was called phreaking. Mobile phones aren't much different. It all seems like alot of effort when all I really want to do is call my and order pizza on the way home so the pizza dude shows up when I do so I don't need to wait for the pizza.
  • I'm a web application developer in Canada, and what I'm noticing is that investor types jump out of their chair at the mention of WAP, but it's hard to find a soul that knows what's actually going on with it. I would suspect that it's largely because there is not a single phone/service combination in Canada at least that allows you to type in a url and go to it - wml or not. You're restricted to whatever boring content Bell gives you.. do we really need more sports scores and horoscopes?

    There are several things causing that situation:

    - Right now there just isn't very much random WAP content available, so there is no point in a "goto URL" feature.

    - The cellular carriers don't like the idea of users going just anywhere -- that diminishes the leverage they have with content providers.

    - From a usability standpoint, most cellular phone users aren't interested in typing in a 30 character URL with their keypad.

    But eventually there will be enough WAP stuff out there that omiting the "goto URL" feature will lose the carrier some customers. It'll come.
  • Ever hear of Imode? It's likely to blow the doors off the WAP standard. Practically exponential growth here in Japan.

    Imode is pretty awesome, but it is specific to NTT DoCoMo (the dominant cellular carrier in Japan). While DoCoMo is a powerhouse, I don't see its standard being able to take over the world. In fact, DoCoMo is a member of the WAP forum!

    The rest of the world is behind Japan in terms of wireless technology, so the rest of the world will start with WAP (which they can and have deployed today) and WAP will grow with their networks.
  • Despite the baying of the media hounds on media convergence, let's stop, take a deep breath and *think* (you know that buzzing sound when you close your mouth and question *obvious* assumptions) that games and cellphones are a natural mix.

    Human beings are social animals but we undertaken specific activities in specific spaces. (see Worlds []). Now cell phones are associated with work (business) and communications. Is it worthwhile also turning it into a game-boy type of system? If a business saw a highly paid worker killing time playing with their Palm (OK stop sniggering in the corner) or cell phone I suspect that they will question your productivity or dedication. If you're driving, you certainly won't be playing at the same time and if you're taking the bus, then it's likely you're not going to be affording the pay/minute for on-line games. If you're at home, then you'd likely to already have a computer or sonsole handy.

    I'm not knocking the idea but building a better mousetrap doesn't always lead to higher utilisation. One study revealed that the cheap wooden mousetrap significantly outsold a plastic box with pheromes because it ignored the fact that housewives didn't like throwing out an expensive looking box and the fact that if they saw a dead mouse in the wooden trap, they could get their husbands to dispose of the carcass immediately whereas they had to look in the box themselves. In short, the social circumstances may have subtle but significant factors in purchasing decisions.

    So will people play games with strangers on their phones given the relative small screen-space, the low-battery life, and high relative costs?


  • I have to agree with the original author. The Palm-style display is as doomed as CGA. I expect an ARM and Mozilla based, full color, 64+MB RAM, 4+GB storage palmtop browser to be available in the next 3 years. There's no real reason to limit screen resolution (I'm happy with 800x600 on a Palm-sized screen, and can read it just fine), but then again perhaps eye-pieces will become popular and screen resolution will be restricted only by available video RAM.

    The real question is bandwidth. I'm honestly amazed that we're not already doing 1+Mb/s wireless as a standard part of laptops. My vague understanding of the problem is that in the US, the FCC is really being a pain in the ass about it all. That eventually has to come, though.

    So, if all of this comes together, where will that leave WAP? Another footnote in the rapid expansion of the technology. WAP is an interim solution, and as such it is eventually doomed. That doesn't mean it's useless for now, though.
  • Short answer: yes.

    Long answer: Look at what is already happening: you wouldn't believe the amount of teens in Finland who use a ridiculously expensive method of communication by sending SMS messages at 15 cents a piece, tens each day, when they have access to free email.

    Look also what is happening in the games market: the high-end PCs are sold almost exclusively for gaming purposes, and people are paying insane amounts of money so that they are able to play Q3 at high frame rates.

    So, building games for a 100x96 monochrome display sounds stupid. But as you point out, you can't exclude other issues - and considering the current trend in places where mobile phone utilization is at its highest, there will be a sizable market for mobile phone gaming. Your kids are gonna love it.

    (For your comments about cell phones associated with work and business: not any longer. Here in Finland they already are a part of your everyday life, like your wrist watch. The US will follow in a year or two.)

  • I find it very amusing that HTML and WAP are still touted as the great e-business this and the great interface that.

    This is static screens which you download from a server. This is the sort of technology that only someone on a limited connection could love. In two years time we'll have upto 2Mbs on a mobile phone, we'll have the same or much better at home.

    Does anyone really think that HTML and WAP provide the sort of functionality that will be possible over a 2Mbs connection ? Ladies and gentleman, I await the stunning announcement from Sun, MS and IBM that the new way forward for the broadband generation is.... client server.

    We've almost caught up with the Star project, just a couple more years to go.
  • in a few months nintendo will come out with a phone-extension for your gameboy.

  • Will you take a rain check until I have some up-moderation points ? Good comments.

    I've tried to feed WAP / WML to Palms. Total disaster, the WAP protocol is so squeezed dow to fit phones that it's unworkable for anything bigger than a Tamagotchi.

  • I can see it now: Tomb Raider IV: PCS Edition, in glorious 120 by 150 monochrome. "Yes Lara, shake that little green ass! Jump! Shoot! Darn, I can't seem to find the Phallus of Kefru in this level..." Which reminds me, I wonder how many processor cycles have been spent rendering Lara's impressive cleavage since the first Tomb Raider came out. I think with that kind of processing power we could have cracked 128-bit Blowfish by now... ;-)
  • I have the feeling that WAP is headed for the same trash can as push technology, micropayments, talking cars, and rings with embedded Java processors. Face it, trying to do anything useful via one or two square inches of screen real estate is sheer misery. Imagine trying to make an airline reservation that way. I think progress in cell phones should be made by improving voice input (see Wildfire []) rather than by building a web browser into the thing.

    Two killer portable ideas of mine, one easy, one hard:

    • A rubberized, ruggedized, waterproof cell phone. Call it the "sport phone"; maybe make it bright yellow. Teenagers and outdoor workers need it; many others would buy it. Eliminate the need for a carrying case to protect the thing. Radios, cordless phones, and walkie-talkies are available like that, but for some reason, not cell phones.
    • A phone in the form factor of a pen. That's a little beyond the state of the art, but it can't be that far away. Voice input, no buttons or screen. Suits would go for it.
    Go for it, portable hardware types.
  • "...vastly powerful processors, that will render the need for "efficiency" as irrelevant as my 2gb hard drive..." My friend, the need for "efficiency" is, and always will be tantamount to the need for bigger, better, faster. Study a little about queuing theory and you will find that efficiency is far, far more important than massive parallellism. Take, for example, this question: "Which is better, a supermarket checkout clerk who checks out at speed 'n*2' items/minute, or two check out clerks that check out at 'n' items/minute?" Are they equivalent? As far as items/minute, yes. Chances are, the resources required for checkers 2 and 3 are more than required for checker 1. All I'm saying is: "THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EFFICIENCY." I program with a guy that says, "You know, this code doesn't need to be efficient because we have a fast processor." Perhaps that's a valid argument for one instance, but ramp up ANY variable, such as ambient traffic or mulitple instances and you have a very real and feasible problem. Sure, you can buy a larger machine. Now you can theoretically process n*2 items. What happens as you start to approach 80% capacity of machine 2? The same thing that happened with machine 1. Now you need a machine 4x as powerful as machine 1 to process not 4n items, but (80% * 2n) * 2, or 3.2n. What would happen if you made the code running on machine 1 more efficient? Could you employ some software engineering ideals to squeeze some more performance out of machine 1? My experience says yes. I refactored my coworker's code and came out with a product that was around 18 times more effiecient than prior code. As far as "learning" goes, no knowledege is without merit. (Except maybe carnal... but that's different) If you have a need to learn it, learn it. If your constantly trying to increase your knowledge base so you can have more to contribute to your fellow man, learn it. I'm sorry for this little off-topic rant, but I have a real problem with an idea of "Innefficieny will be masked by technology." There is one context in which innefficiency is acceptable: prototypes.
  • And guess what happens when you try to access a website and it says:

    This web-server is busy with 16 connections, 3 voice calls, 1 fax and 2 game consoles. Please try again after 5 minutes. Till then have a chance at Tetris at your own phone!

  • I think its pretty obvious already that WAP is not flying. Roll-out has happened all over Europe and hardly anyone is using it.

    The main problems are high costs combined with unattractive design. Who wants to pay 20-50cts per minute for surfing in b/w text mode ?

    The consumer magazines tested WAP extensively and most concluded that it is a mad proposition as it stands.

    The operators have been extremely greedy when deciding on the pricing. After all the bandwidth which WAP uses is minimal compared to speech. A flat pricing like DoCoMos imode charges would have been appropriate.

    The WAP setup is designed to give operators a leverage over the content. In theory most phones can change the operators default URL and point to some site which could provide you with a field which allows you to enter your real destination URL freely. But how many users are going to do that ? This leaves WAP content providers at the mercy of the operators portal. Not suprisingly the WAP content is extremely small.

    Another drawback is that the display is too small to carry attractive adverts. 99% of the web's business models fall flat on the face because of this. Operators have not shown much ambition either to pass on some of their outragous charges to content providers.

    I guess that WAP will eventually fly when i-mode arrives and the operators are forced to offer free WAP access.
  • by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @10:22PM (#1037241)
    I have a cell phone, like many of you. However I am not l33t and do not want to play Q3A:Pocket Edition on said cell phone. I also don't particularly care for surfing the net using crappy data protocols at slow speeds. Were I a developer I wouldn't appriciate Motorola and Nokia writing very different browsers for said cell phone which renders code for the competitor's product a garbled (waste of bandwidth == time == money == bankrupt) mess. Maybe I'm not with the "groove" as it were.
    I don't want several things added to my cell phone but I can think of several things I DO want added to it. I want an electric ink screen rather than buttons and an LCD. There's a funny thing about devices that don't continuously need electricity, they preserve battery life a great deal. Electric ink in its various forms holds the image you put on it until another charge is applied to it and besides which the charge is meager compared to the backlight of an LCD. Such a screen compined with touch sensors could be altered to display any language easily and different keypads. Another thing I do want on a cell phone is a decent data rate that makes downloading of fancy XML dataforms quick and relatively painless. If we're going to WAP cell phones do we really need companies like Nokia and Motorola defining how we WAP our data (pun intended)? How about we use old skool HTML before Netscape and M$ extended it to be modernized sandskrit. Wow maybe we can even listen to those W3C guys talking about something called "HTML standards". It seems to me XML is not the greatest of ideas in some cases for limited bandwidth toys like cell phones and handheld computers. The main problem I see is bandwidth, with XML the processing is done almost entirely by your client machine. While this is fine and dandy on a four exahertz home system with a DSL hook-up a mobile device is somewhat limited by the battery and bandwidth which are both costing you money. People wouldn't be jizzing all over the internet right now if you had to pay by the house/minute/Planck second for access.
    More to the point of this article why aren't we seeing more Java for these new and wonderful toys? According to McNealy a couple years ago by now we ought to be seeing Java everywhere. Networked phones seem like the perfect niche. JIT compiling and Applets let you write your WAP toy once and run it on any phone you get your hands on. Don't like Motorola's XML parser? Pop in a third party browser written in Java and you're good to go. Jini's marketing plans come back to me now, as do Bluetooth. I put my cell phone and laptop on a desk and turn both on and WAP! I have a wireless internet connection. Not only do I get to share my connection but I also get to upload a new program for the phone. Eh, oh well.
  • by Ratface ( 21117 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @11:08PM (#1037242) Homepage Journal
    I really can't believe I'm reading this. 70-odd posts about WAP and hardly one of them is positive! I bet that not one of you remembers when HTML was something new. If you did, then perhaps you would recognise the importance of WML and WAP.

    * Of course it's basic at the moment - it's a new standard. It's got a way to go before it develops, but it's already being used to produce useable and useful sites.

    * OK, so its not Open Source - and Geoworks is kicking up a stink over an alleged patent they have on WAP, but nobody seriously believes Geoworks' claims and it is completely free to develop WAP - just the same as HTML.

    * Phones have small screens and so WAP is text based. Yup. So what? There's a lot of info that can be made available through text - or don't you guys use telnet?

    * WAP is insecure|slow|boring|expensive / there are too few sites / can't handle video/audio etc. Give it time. When I started using the net all the above was true as well. People invent and create around such obstacles.

    * WML isn't as rich as HTML. Right tools for right interface. Do you need <font size="7"> on your phone? WML is a new markup language that resembles HTML, but is built using XML and includes the features that are necessary for the current development of phones.

    * WML won't last. Quite possibly right. I kinda see WAP as a bridging technology to other better methods of accessing the huge amount of info that's on the net - however it's an extremely important bridging technology because for the first time, mobile Internet access is a reality - for the masses. It'll take a while to fill out and mature, but the cat is out of the bag and you ain't gonna be able to stuff it back in again.

    Finally, I suspect that many of the posters here are Americans. Nope, I'm not going to get into some kinda racial slur here, but the US has a terrible relationship to mobile phone technology. Maybe if you lived in a country where mobile phone use was as cheap, simple and ubiquitous as those of us in Europe or Japan (and other areas), then you would understand how truly revolutionary it is being able to get access to a portion of the huge, huge wealth of information that is available on the Internet.

    Beyond that, mobile phones are quite simply easier to understand and use for many people than computers. Even my Mum understands what WAP is about and uses an SMS banking service on her mobile phone. She's been on the web maybe 4 times! Does she really need a computer in her life? I think not - but if she had access to say, a theatre ticket booking system, her bank account balance and a simple message service she would actually make use of such tools.

    Well, that's my rant over - if you've read this far I hope that you'll maybe reconsider your view of WAP - if not, that's your perogative and I'll look forward to hearing your views in 2 years when you are whining that you missed the boat.

    Feel free to check out some of the WAP services already available here; []

    "Give the anarchist a cigarette"
  • by Gid1 ( 23642 ) <tom AT gidden DOT net> on Wednesday May 31, 2000 @12:08AM (#1037243)
    I went to a pretty interesting seminar in London a while back, which focused on the business case for WAP.

    It seems (and there's quite a lot of support for this theory) that WAP is really just a temporary hack put there until they get 3G services sorted. I'm damn glad of this -- ever since I started working on WAP I've hated it. It seems such a badly-thought-out solution.

    Guesses are that there just aren't going to be enough WAP-capable handsets in circulation before 3G takes off two years hence. Nokia and the others can't make them fast enough.

    The networks, the manufacturers, the content providers, all seem to be paying lip-service to WAP while focusing on 3G and other technologies. This is a fair point.

    Most developers I've spoken to say this, though: "It's not worth getting into WAP. Let's wait for 3G". However, I'll put this to you: WAP is an experiment. Not an experiment in technology (3G tech is so different that WAP techie experience will be useless). It's an experiment in business models. How will we make money out of "m-Commerce" and "free" wireless services? How do people interact with wireless services? What are going to be the primary uses of wireless services?

    We have all these great ideas like revenue sharing and loss-leading (based on building a membership base across mobile and traditional internet platforms). Do we know whether they're going to work? The best thing to do is dip our toes in the water while they're getting 3G ready. Once that comes, WAP will probably go the way of Gopher.

    For now, the companies who pass over WAP for 3G will enter the arena of wireless internet with NO EXPERIENCE, and NO ESTABLISHED BRAND within the wireless domain.

    Okay, I'm talking fluent Suit now. I run an internet games business and I'm also the main developer. I have to see both sides of the coin. Even so, I'm dreading having to write games for WAP.

    Tally me up for a 'WAP really sucks' vote, though.
  • I find it tremendously ironic that nobody has actually pointed out in 150 posts that the content of the article is, unfortunately false. It's vaporware guys. Did any other prospective developers actually go to the site to try to download such code? I did. There is no Game Construction Toolkit to download. Instead, their site says:

    ... The program supplies a WAP Client Toolkit, a Game Construction Toolkit, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), documentation and sample source code for applications. ... The Developers Program's toolkits will be available to registered developers from Autumn 2000. Before that, you can download our Developer's Guide and other resource documents, or read our selection of FAQ relating to the Mobile Entertainment Service.

    Yawn. What a disappointment. Here I wanted to see how quickly I could port my 3D "tetris" game to a cell phone and I have to wait another four months. This is a good reminder of how poor the quality of Slashdot information and Slashdot community information is. Well, here's one member of the community trying to get the facts I've learned out. We'll see if you moderators cooperate. :-) (Is my criticism of Slashdot too insightful for you? Oh, sorry, I'm not supposed to mention the invisible moderators in a plea for points, either overt or reverse- sychologically, right?)

    Sarcastically yours,

  • by jpatokal ( 96361 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @11:59PM (#1037245) Homepage
    As someone who has implemented a medium-scale WAP application, I have only one thing to say: WAP sucks.

    Damn straight. And the bizarre thing is, these is a WAP equivalent that does not suck: NTT Docomo's i-mode []. Unfortunately, it's a proprietary PDC (Japan-only) system and so it will never be seen elsewhere, but it has managed to avoid the key mistakes which are likely to doom WAP to oblivion.

    • Mistake 1: WAP phones do not allow access to the Internet (yes, I know about gateways and such, but they're a hack). i-mode phones do. Result: right off the bat the i-mode can access a lot more content.
    • Mistake 2: WAP is so overpriced it's not even funny. Here in Finland, which usually has very low prices for cellular use, a single WAP call can easily cost several dollars -- compare this with less than 10c for an SMS or a one-minute call. In Japan, i-mode costs a low fixed monthly fee and e.g. e-mail costs one yen (approx. 1c) a pop.
    • Mistake 3: WAP phones are normal phones with teensy screens. i-mode phones have huge displays, the never models even have color screen. Usability is much better.
    i-mode looks set to have 10 million subscribers by the end of the year. In Finland I don't know a soul who actually uses WAP, and I work at a company that develops WAP applications! Like most people here, I'll wait until UMTS is rolled out before buying my next phone, WAP simply does not provide any incentive to upgrade now.


  • by intmainvoid ( 109559 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @07:25PM (#1037246)
    Finally my phenomenal Pong skills will see the light of day!

    | *

  • by iai ( 123723 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @07:51PM (#1037247)
    I just wanted to point out that Ericsson also has tools like this avalible. I don't know how they compair, but they can be found here. []
  • by javaDragon ( 187973 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @07:32PM (#1037248) Homepage
    Sorry, but to incite developers to use WAP it takes more than a free dev. kit, I think. entProblem/one/index.html

    WAP is simply not an open standard. We already have a technology for such applications, whjich is proven, open and runs pretty well : HTTP.

  • by matta ( 18945 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @07:47PM (#1037249) Homepage
    Sorry, but to incite developers to use WAP it takes more than a free dev. kit, I think.

    Actually, what will incite developers to use WAP is the existence of phones and gateways that support it!

    The people who decide whether this happens are not geeks reading Slashdot, it is the big wireless carriers who have invested huge amounts of money in their networks. Why do they choose WAP? Quite simply there is no other set of protocols that more adequately addresses the issues involved in deploying applications over the wireless networks they have spent all their money on. tProblem/one/index.html

    WAP is simply not an open standard. We already have a technology for such applications, whjich is proven, open and runs pretty well : HTTP.

    HTTP is not analagous to WAP. WAP is more like TCP/IP + HTTP + HTTPS + HTML + a browser operating environment + Javascript, but all designed in such a way that it can run over all the disparate kinds of networks that exist in the world today. In fact, WAP does use HTTP, but that is just a small part of the picture.

    As for WAP not being an open standard -- there are real efforts being made to make WAP and internet standards converge (e.g. both WML -> XHTML and HTML -> XHTML).

    This will happen at about the same pace as it takes the wireless carriers to convert their networks into beasts that look a lot more like the internet at large (similar bandwidth, IP based, etc.).
  • by Scrymarch ( 124063 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @10:02PM (#1037250)
    Do I *really* need to leap up and learn "Yet Another Markup Language?" (side note...can I patent/copyright/trademark "yet another..."?)

    Well, it isn't completely new, it's a dialect of XML.

    My prediction is that we are going to Moore's Law WAP to death in short order ("I'd like 'The Patently Obvious' for $400, Alex")

    The limiting factors for WAP devices by and large aren't processor power, so Moore's law doesn't apply. The two major factors are screen size and network speed.

    The only guideline I know for network speed is Neilsen's Law [], which is significantly slower than Moore's, and that only covers Internet bandwidth, not Wireless bandwidth. And screen size is fixed. If you don't think that calls for a different UI, try posting to /. off a cell phone.

  • by kb9vcr ( 127764 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @07:31PM (#1037251)
    Sure the "other" phones may have a larger coveraging range but our latest model phone can play....Solitare!!! Yes, that's right! No need to waste your lunch playing solitare in your office when you can be on the go and do the same thing! Also, for an extra $9.99 a month you can get updated 'card packs' starting with(at no extra charge) the windows solitare default card pack* that you've learned to love!! (coming soon, hearts)

    *'castle with flying bats' card pack not included.

  • by Dragon218 ( 139996 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @07:23PM (#1037252) Homepage
    I've had some close calls with people on their portable phones while driving. The last thing I need is for some yuppie in a Lexus playing Tetris or Pac-Man while trying to pass me.

    Let it be known that I have no arguments against Asteroids or Missle Command. I would accept that.

  • by PhiRatE ( 39645 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @07:50PM (#1037253)
    As someone who has implemented a medium-scale WAP application, I have only one thing to say: WAP sucks.

    The fact that its based on XML is cool, the syntax is clear, the addition of a scripting language is fairly sensible, and yet I have many gripes:

    Motorola and Nokia have implemented their browsers completely differently, you simply cannot write a simple WAP application that will perform well and be userfriendly on both, you have to do it twice, once for each browser basically.

    Additionally, the WAP markup itself is full of redundencies, there are invariably several ways to achieve each effect. This would be fine except that each browser implementation treats them differently, causing something that is easily navigable in one browser to be a total mess in another.

    This on top of the already obvious flaws such as over-zealous caching despite headers, terrible error handling, buggy simulators (Nokia in particular) and confusingly unintuitive choices for various aspects make WAP at its current stage impractical to develop in with anything short of a Motorola and Nokia phone right in front of you to test with.

    I note however that if you can get your hands on a couple of phones to test with, things become easier, and with a bit of wire sniffing and using a decent backend language like PHP, you can whip up WAP applications fairly quickly. Its just not a small-time developers game at this stage :/

  • by superid ( 46543 ) on Tuesday May 30, 2000 @07:39PM (#1037254) Homepage
    Do I *really* need to leap up and learn "Yet Another Markup Language?" (side note...can I patent/copyright/trademark "yet another..."?)

    I've been trying to read a bit about WAP at the WAP forum [] and the W3C [] but the whole thing strikes me as semi-interim and only half heartedly standard and open.

    My basic complaint is the premise. On the one hand we see a whole new type of device with legions of people trying to figure out how to make efficient GUIs while conserving either display space, or storage, or whatnot with WAP ...and on the other hand we have multi-zillion dollar companies building infrastructure and vastly powerful processors, that will render the need for "efficiency" as irrelevant as my 2gb hard drive.

    My prediction is that we are going to Moore's Law WAP to death in short order ("I'd like 'The Patently Obvious' for $400, Alex")

A university faculty is 500 egotists with a common parking problem.