Getting the buzz on travel
by HOWARD WOLINSKY
As I sat in my hotel room in Vilnius, Lithuania, recently, the BlackBerry buzzed me with an alert: I soon should get out to the airport pronto for a flight to Dublin, Ireland.
The notice came via WorldMate Live software, which also provided the Aer Lingus flight number, my confirmation number and departure time, conversion rates from Lithuanian litas and American dollars to euros, the time in Dublin, the name and address of the Dublin hotel where I would be staying and a local weather report.
WorldMate, developed by Israel-based MobiMate, provides loads of good, current information on wherever you're heading.
WorldMate has been around for seven years in free and premium subscription software in a less dynamic version that didn't "push" live information, though you could find similar information by seeking it and "pulling" it out.
The new Live version was introduced on BlackBerry, the phone most commonly used by MobiMate customers. But WorldMate Live will be available on other phones in the months ahead.
WorldMate was superior to my usual way of tracking a trip: collecting e-mail confirmations for hotels, flights and car rentals in an e-mail folder, printing out multiple copies, and then schlepping them with me.
As a user of WorldMate Live, I simply registered and checked into my account at worldmatelive.com and added my travel information, meeting times and addresses.
The software takes these diverse bits of information and creates a well-organized itinerary. You can export travel information to WorldMate Live from confirmation e-mails.
Once the itinerary is saved, it's available in minutes on your phone. And users can e-mail a copy to anyone with a need to know.
I tried WorldMate Live on a Blackberry 8300 World Edition from Verizon. After I downloaded the software, an airplane icon was generated on the desktop for WorldMate Live. Since I entered the phone numbers and addresses for hotels, it was easy to click on the icon and see where I was going and when, or to find the number to call ahead when I was very late to ask if any nearby restaurants would be open.
With premium Gold Membership, which costs $9.95 per month, or $99.95 a year, WorldMate Live pushes alerts to the phone when planes you're tracking take off or land or reminders of upcoming meetings.
On a long layover in Dublin, I was buzzed when family members I was meeting in Eastern Europe landed or took off as they headed in from San Francisco and Tel Aviv.
The Live version pushes user's information when there is a change in flight status, such as a delay, a cancellation or a gate change.
To be safe, though, I still brought my printouts in case the phones went down.
HOW IT WORKS
1. Register at WorldMateLive's Web site, filling in your itinerary.
2. The service "pushes" information to your BlackBerry.
3. These are samples of how the messages appear on your phone.