Monday, August 18, 2008

— Yahoo Inc. is riding the wave of location-based services with the rollout of a service intended to help users share their real-world location with their friends online.

Yahoo made Fire Eagle available to the public last week. It had been available in a private “beta” test since March.

After signing up with a Yahoo ID, users can update their physical locations through Fire Eagle’s Web site or from a cell phone with Fire Eagle’s mobile site. They then can let the service interact with a variety of desktop, Web-based and mobile applications to let people know where they are. Early participants include Dopplr, a site for sharing travel plans, and Pownce, a site for sending messages and files.

Yahoo said Fire Eagle gives users a range of privacy options for applications they use with it and that the site securely stores location information.

Tom Coates, who led the development of Fire Eagle as head of product for Yahoo’s start-up-like projects unit, Brickhouse, said the platform was developed as a way to make Web sites more geographically aware and personalized.

“Location is an extra thing that can transform every site on the Web,” he said.

Because Fire Eagle is an open platform, developers can use it to add location services to applications as well.

So far, Mr. Coates has spotted about 50 applications using Fire Eagle, including one that a user built to track himself and another meant to add locations to blog posts.

Mr. Coates said Fire Eagle could help generate revenue in the future, but “we’re concentrating right now on making it as big as possible and getting the service used.”

Kwiry service lets users text to remember tidbits

It happens to everyone: A friend recommends a good book or movie, but by the time you get around to Googling it - assuming you get that far - you can’t remember what it’s called.

A San Francisco start-up called Kwiry (pronounced “query”) aims to help you remember such snippets of information with a free service that lets you text these tidbits from your cell phone to its site.

“What we want to do is make the experience of remembering as simple as possible,” said Kwiry co-founder and Chief Executive Ron Feldman.

After signing up on Kwiry’s Web site, you can start sending text messages to “kwiry,” or “59479” on a phone’s keypad. The messages can be about anything you want to follow up on. Mr. Feldman said he has seen users send reminders about books, products they want to buy and varieties of wine.

When you’re back at a computer, you can visit Kwiry’s Web site to see items displayed as links that can be clicked for related search results. Kwiry also can automatically send that information to your e-mail address.

The site has several shortcuts intended to make remembering even simpler, including two added this week that let users more easily add items to their wish lists at the retailer Inc. or DVD queues at Netflix Inc.

Kwiry is exploring other shortcuts. One possibility Mr. Feldman mentioned would let users bookmark restaurants on the review site Yelp from their cell phones.

“There are endless things, from that standpoint, of any service you might be inspired to interact with when you’re not by your computer,” he said.

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