Track Friends by Phone

The service, called Finder, works with cellular phones and cellular-capable handhelds that use the Global System for Mobile Communications. Most PCS phones use the network, as do the majority of European wireless phones, accounting for about 67 per cent of all cell phones worldwide.

According to Peter Henricsson, chairman of CellPoint, Finder is part of a growing trend of offering entertaining applications to cell phones for phone-toting teens. "We have several commercial products, but they are more niche and vertical," he says. "We wanted something that anyone could use. Let's face it, 19-year-olds are the future. They are the ones who will run the wireless Internet."

As with America Online's buddy list, you start by entering your friend's name and relevant information. You can key in contact information on your phone's keypad or at the company's Website. If you enter information at the CellPoint Website, the data is transmitted wirelessly to your phone as a text message.

You then select a friend and tell Finder to spit out their location. A text message appears, in the form "Peter is near Landmark X, about 2.2km west of you."

Here's how it works. The phone is already capable of determining its location in relation to up to seven cellular base stations, which receive and transmit your cell calls. "The phone knows where it is," says Henricsson, "even if you're not using it."

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Paul Heltzel

PC World

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