Google Maps on Your Smartphone or Handheld

KMaps is a new program that brings Google Maps functionality to your Palm OS handheld or smartphone. It also includes location based services, local searching, PIM integration, offline map caching and traffic information.

Google Maps for Palm OSGoogle Maps for Palm OS

KMaps is J2ME based Mobile Location Services Platform, built on the top of Google Maps. Because it is a Java based application it requires the WebSphere Java Virtual Environment available from Palm. The JVM currently supports the Treo 600 and Treo 650 smartphones, Tungsten C, Tungsten T3, Tungsten E, Tungsten T5 and Zire 72 handhelds. KMaps is available at no cost.

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Very promising indeed

billpetro @ 8/12/2005 8:54:06 PM # Q
I've tried this on my Treo. While it seems more than a proof of concept, the future posibilities are impressive.

Really does support Google maps on a Treo!
Able to access built-in Contacts for addresses saves typing
Good set-up instructions
Promise of "location based services" makes this something to watch.

Slow between functions
Large: some of the Java portions need to be in RAM vs. SD card
Needs more work on the interface

Bill Petro

RE: Very promising indeed
ggeoffre @ 8/12/2005 10:00:34 PM # Q
I would have to agree, it is very big and a little on the slow side. Nothing against the developer, it has everything to do with the fact that it is a Java application. Given the race to bring more web based functionality to handheld mobile devices of late, I would look for a smaller/quicker application from directly from google, msn, aol or yahoo.

Handmark has an application, Pocket Express that looks pretty good and provides online capabilities. The major con here is that it is a subscription service costing $70/yr.

Mapopolis is a very nice application, but it is static. Very quick, but very very big. You have to load every map onto your handheld. It has GPS capabilities which is cool if you have GPS.

IMO, a cross between KMaps and mapopolis is what is needed. A natively written application with online maps. Handmark would be such a solution, if it was not for the annual subscription.

RE: Very promising indeed
ocspub @ 8/13/2005 12:51:21 AM # Q
> Mapopolis is a very nice application, but it is static.
> Very quick, but very very big. You have to load every
> map onto your handheld.

Yeah, but since it can also load maps from SD cards, it really isn't a problem; 1 GB cards can hold a lot of maps and are readily affordable.

> MO, a cross between KMaps and mapopolis is what is needed.
> A natively written application with online maps.

I don't see why the maps would have to be online. That data doesn't change often enough to justify fetching it all the time over the slow wireless network. Overlaying the static map data from memory cards with real-time traffic and POI data would be the way I'd go, at least until the Treo 700 with EVDO comes out :-)


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RE: Very promising indeed
MarcosV @ 8/13/2005 1:21:48 PM # Q

I'm actually very happy to see this written in Java.. Although it will never be as fast as a native app, optimizations can be made that will improve performance and updated JVM's almost always imporove performance.

As a developer, its just a hell of a lot of work to write an app that will only run on one family of devices. With Java, one can easily port the code to other mobile devices and cover a wider range of users.

The more PalmSource backs Java, the better the performance and capabilitis of these apps will be for us.

The RIM BlackBerry devices use Java exclusively and I don't recall anyone complaining much about speed using them devices..


Palm's support of JAVA is almost nonexistent
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 8/13/2005 2:18:43 PM # Q
You'd think it would have been a priority for PalmSource to have improved JAVA on Palm to encourage the porting of more apps to the platform. Instead, JAVA is about as robust as AppForge. ;-O

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RE: Very promising indeed
Altema @ 8/13/2005 8:16:43 PM # Q
"Yeah, but since it can also load maps from SD cards, it really isn't a problem; 1 GB cards can hold a lot of maps and are readily affordable."

Not only can Mapopolis load maps from the card, they are loaded dynamically so you only use RAM as needed for a particular viewing area and zoom level.

RE: Very promising indeed
ggeoffre @ 8/14/2005 9:20:30 PM # Q
I will admit that mapooplis has greatly improved in that regard. I can remember when it would copy all maps (and adjacent maps if one selected the option) onto RAM. it never seemed to clean up after itself. The updated version is much improved.

Dedicating SD memory to maps is a commitment of real-estate that one does have to purchase. KMaps is also an expensive RAM application given the fact that you have to install the JVM into RAM.

Native is the way to go on Palm for speed and size. I like both KMaps and Mapopolis, each has their strengths and weaknesses based solely on design decisions, not features. It is a classic example of code portability vs. native performance and live internet dynamic content vs. cached data on removable storage. The ultimate in portable/dynamic vs. raw performance. (Pocket Express just has a poor consumer model with its annual subscription).

What other viable alternatives exist for maps on a Palm/Treo mobile device? These are the two that I have used most recently.

RE: Very promising indeed
jasondeno @ 8/15/2005 9:41:13 AM # Q
"Handmark has an application, Pocket Express that looks pretty good and provides online capabilities. The major con here is that it is a subscription service costing $70/yr."

That's for their entire suite of Treo optimized apps. They have one for just Maps and 411 service for around $30/yr.

I've used it for about a year and like it a lot. It also supports contacts lookup.

But when I'm really planning a trip, I use GPS. TomTom's GPS NAv ($250 for the program, maps and bluetooth gps reciever) does a great job. Plus, since its on my phone, I can take it in any car like a rental or a buddy's car.

RE: Very promising indeed
joad @ 8/15/2005 4:36:59 PM # Q
Handmark Express requires a whole lot of RAM, and many people (myself included) get a "hanging" white screen whenever we try installing it. The only thing Handmark will say is that they think it's a "3rd party app"... I love that copout - for $30 or $70 a year, you would think their support department would have some idea of what application(s) they have found to not get along with... everything else on my 650 seems to work fine.

Glad to hear Mapopolis has cleaned up their act somewhat. The last time I subscribed you could store as much as you wanted onto the card, but couldn't use anything unless you moved the entire county (or counties) you would be travelling into RAM. One county I often needed to travel through was about 3MB alone, so that basically made the subscription worthless for actual use. Travelling across the state would require the memory of a Zodiac2 to function worthwhile.

I think mapping on Palm devices has potential, but I have yet to see it tapped well. Pocket PCs have had more appropriate hardware for mapping for quite some time, but the programs are ridiculously priced for consumers and often out of date and klunky. Also I've found the Bluetooth connectivity for GPSs to be terrible.

If someone designs a PDA mapping solution that fits into the skimpy RAM we get and actually works as well as most apps on a PDA, they will be onto something. Advantages of a PDA is one piece of Hardware, tied in with a current contact database, possibly connecting to GPS wirelessly, and hopefully soon with traffic updates and automatically rerouting information. Add to that a way for them to sync up map updates, and you have a "killer app" for a PDA.

If people are silly enough to spend $1,000+ for a GPS the size of a princess phone that only does GPS, certainly some PDA manufacturer could put together a solution that does what they do and more for less than $500. Though I'm not holding my breath....

RE: Very promising indeed
XmonkeyX @ 8/17/2005 10:51:25 AM # Q
I'm sure Mapopolis maps have increades in size since the first version of their software. The one that loaded all the maps into RAM. But back then you could ALMOST fit the entire US on a 512 mb SD card. If the new one only loads what you can see, I'd rather have a dedicated 1 GIG SD card just for Mapopolis. In fact I think you can buy them on SD cards now. Mapopolis is the best software out there I think.

RE: Very promising indeed
ggeoffre @ 8/21/2005 11:20:07 AM # Q
The size of mapopolis is its only design fault IMO. And it is not really a fault, it was a decision on how to distribute maps. Rather than solely using a local copy of a map, now the mapopolis can use only the chunks of data it needs, it is almost as if it is preparing itself for dynamic (live) distribution of map data.

After using KMaps a litle more, I do not believe that it is solely Java that is responsible for its sluggish behavior. It is the network chatter that downloads the map data that makes this map almost unusable when navigating around a city. You end up passing your destination before the map has a change to update.

RE: Very promising indeed
imitrovic @ 8/21/2005 1:07:55 PM # Q
Again, if you store your KMaps map images on SD there won't be a network chatter...
RE: Very promising indeed
ggeoffre @ 8/23/2005 12:09:25 AM # Q
Version 1.4 is much improved. Many new features added. The performance also appears to be faster than the version I first installed.

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4s @ 8/12/2005 9:12:29 PM # Q
I see the Tungsten E listed. Would this work on the E2?

RE: E2
legodude522 @ 8/13/2005 1:31:54 PM # Q
Sure it will, it will also work with the Zire 71.

Palm m125 December 25, 2003 to March 24 2004 > palmOne Zire 71 March 24, 2004 to March 31, 2005. Tapwave Zodiac 1 April 18, 2005 to present.
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too many bugs!

scorched @ 8/14/2005 5:06:47 AM # Q
cool but needs work...

RE: too many bugs!
joad @ 8/14/2005 5:08:17 PM # Q
The developer's been doing a bang-up job with this in such a short time... I have few issues with the speed or stability, and the graphics are fantastic.

The bummer is the RAM footprint for Java, as well as the limited download area - takes a while to scroll around on the screen and redraw the "bricks" into map... Would like to see an implementation of "x" space around the point to download, as I have Sprint and don't care about how much data I chomp (as long as I can move RAM around to accomodate it).

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Interesting, but....

MleB @ 8/20/2005 8:44:07 AM # Q sounds like it uses more memory (and for that matter, technology)then I really need in a map on my Palm - especially if we're talking a 'non-live' static one.

For what it's worth, I do a search for a map on Yahoo, Google, Mapquest or wherever and save the GIF. Then I use the freeware 'Virtual Display Image Viewer' (jeez, what a name) -

which adds a converter and conduit onto your computer and a viewer onto your PDA.

Scrolling and some basic zoom capabilities once the map is there and it can handle other images too.

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imitrovic @ 8/20/2005 4:39:59 PM # Q
There are several reasons why I wrote this in Java, but portability is on the top of the list as suggested.

KMaps does a fairly decent job when it comes to mapping (you may also want to read about new features that include Route Planning at, but I think that the biggest value is that it does Google Local Search and pairs results with Google Maps. Mapping the places on the handheld is nothing new, but pairing with an excellent Google Search service for local places probably is.

Also, as suggested, future Treos can only get better when it comes to memory management and space, not worse than they are now. And Java implementation is going to get better, too. There was this same kind of conversation a few years ago about Java being slow on the server side etc. and the evolution of Java Virtual Machine pretty much made all the other server side technologies less favorable comparing to J2EE. I am pretty sure that we will see some serious Java application coming to Treos and other devices The latest Opera Browser that is in its early stage is just one of them...

And, yes, worth of mentioning, KMaps can save Map Images to SD card and use them for offline browsing, too. Once stored to SD, maps are automaticly loaded without need for a network connection at all. As the matter of fact, the lightweight desktop application that I am planning to develop soon will enable KMaps users to get Map Images of the selected area on their PCs and store them on SD for offline viewing with KMaps... For example, I have pretty much all the Boston stored in various zooms on my SD and I hardly remember when I went online for Map image when using KMaps... cheers...

RE: KMaps
hedleyw @ 8/22/2005 5:21:02 PM # Q
Any problems on Lifedrive with KMaps? Since I installed the latest version I have had to hard reset my LD, it was failing to boot after a soft reset, just looping round the boot up sequence ad infinitum. Might just be a coincidence...

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