Traveling with WorldMate

WorldMate (from MobiMate) is indeed one of the smart software products available on the mobile market today. The product supports some 8 different mobile OS flavors. One of my first HP iPAQ models included WorldMate (free edition) in the software bundle that came with the unit. The software just, well...worked! I often found myself poking around for the CD after a hard reset, so I could re-install it. I had to travel a lot more back then, and so it was quite useful to me. Recently, MobiMate asked me to give their new beta WorldMate Live service a go, and as I had a trip coming up, I took them up on it. I didn't get to use all the features in WM Live for my trip (as the beta wasn't quite ready yet), but was able to use their latest WorldMate client to fill in until I had everything set up. The software still works well (with the exception of some obvious "beta" bugs), and they have added some well-planned, and valuable features. Install and Setup The install was pretty simple. I went to the web-site and downloaded the OTA (Over-The-Air) CAB version, and installed it to my SD storage card on my iPAQ. WorldMate will take upward of between 6-7MB once it's completely configured and will use up more when downloading data and maps, so you may want to consider that fact if you have limited on-device memory. Mobimate also now has a Desktop Companion product and strong Outlook integration features, allowing you to sync your travel itinerary and Outlook calendars. I did not test the extended functions beyond the mobile software, but would advise anyone who really wants to use this product solely for it's travel assistance features to check these out as well. After installing WorldMate Live, the software will start up, and you will need to create a WorldMate Live account, and set your locale.

Account Setup

Locale Settings

Worldmate Live Portal The WM Live features are centered on the WL web account and portal. Once you set up your account (on a desktop browser), the portal is much like a travel-oriented Google homepage. You can create/view and plan your trips in the portal to include detailed flight, hotel, rental car information, and even meeting specifics. The portal is integrated to work with several major travel services, complete with e-mail tab to allow you to forward your completed plans to your travel agency along with a personal message. Once you have created trips in the portal, they will then be available and appear in the mobile client application after synchronization. These events can be added to your Windows Mobile calendar and alert you when they require your attention. NOTE: I did not actually fully test this with the beta, but with the latest WorldMate WM client application (as I didn't have the beta yet). They may require full outlook integration for this to function in WM Live.

WorldMate Live Portal...

WorldMate Live The WorldMate Live application is much like the original WorldMate that I used back in the day, but with a slicker look and feel, and somewhat more streamlined than the full client. The useful converters, time and weather tools are all still in there, with the emphasis on the travel features. There were some basic drawing problems in several of the windows (not unusual for a beta). The graphics look crisp and the color scheme is eye-pleasing. I noted early problems (which cleared up after a couple of restarts) with multiple instances of the app starting, and it seems the d-pad is the only control that would select and move between most on-screen buttons. Again, I would be very surprised to see any of these issues survive to the final released version. The main screen is divided into 4 main features:

-My Itineraries -Weather Center -Flight Center -Travel Tools

Itineraries WM Live feels much more like a travel viewer really than the full client. Before reviewing this version, I was checking out the latest WorldMate, and was quite pleased that I could build my whole trip inside the mobile client. In this version, you use the mobile portal or the Outlook integration features from your desktop computer to build your trip plan. You then sync these items with the mobile client. Once synced, the "My Itinerary" view will display an item for each event pertinent to your travel such as flight departures, meetings, etc. Selecting each event will allow you to drill further into the details.

The My Itinerary views

Weather Center OK, I'm a weather geek, so I admit that the weather center is my favorite tool here. Upon selection, the following display is presented (see below) with a graphic indication of the weather expected for your location along with high-low temps. You can further drill down into the weather parameters and forecast specifics. The coolest feature here is the Satellite Imagery, which is also a shortcut to several other map types. Selecting the "Change Map" button will allow you to load other map types like precip, temp forcasts and radar representations for your locale.

Weather Center Display

Map Display

Flight Center This is an exceptional set of features in both versions that I tested. The ability to quickly track and query both flight status and daily flight schedules is a real boon to the road warrior, and these tools in WM Live will be much used, I predict. To check on a flight status, simply enter your query complete with your flight number, and WM Live will return the latest known status from it's network service. It will also save your query information for later fast retrieval. Similarly, a whole list of available flights to a particular destination can be queried and sorted, in case--heaven forbid--you have to reschedule a flight during your trip.

Your flight status listing...

Query/Sort all available flights...

Travel Tools The travel tools have always been the basic reason why I like Mobimate's products. They put a decent and simple blend of items together in this category. Things like currency converters, packing lists, world time/weather, etc. The WM Live version I tested had removed some of these, to my disappointment. For instance, the world time/clocks no longer seemed to include basic weather forecast info for other world locations, and I couldn't locate the packing list feature. I have used this for extended trips to places like Iraq, and Afghanistan as I had to take quite a few non-standard items. Still, the tools here will be valuable for the international traveler who needs to convert clothing sizes, and currency, and keep track of changing time zones.

Convert clothing sizes, currency rates, or even liters to gallons using the built-in conversion tools...

World Clocks and Time

WorldMate Live is a great addition to the WorldMate product line, if a bit more spartan than previous products I have used. I recently went on a business trip to St. Louis, and used the full WorldMate PPC mobile application (not the beta), which included complimentary pro features turned on for a limited time. I really liked the integration between my trip itinerary and my mobile calendar, and felt the product really shined overall. I think the Live beta will undoubtedly need to be re-fined, and some of the bugs I mentioned in the review cleaned up, but based on the past titles I have used, I have full confidence in this product being just as excellent. To learn more about Mobimates' full range of mobile and desktop travel software products, click here...

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