Aussie WAP update

You'll find a service that looks and feels like an interactive version of SMS, the Short Messaging Service that already zaps notes and messages between mobile phones. The WAP user interface has all the excitement of your current phone's menu options - no pizzazz, and very few graphics.

So, what's out there? Does WAP offer any local content? Up to date news? Booking services? Online shopping? One way to check it out if you haven't invested in a WAP-enabled phone is to visit the progressive US-based site www.wap.com - piles of WAP links, and the Wapalizer, an emulation of a Nokia 7110 mobile phone that runs in your PC-based browser. (There's a similar service at www.gelon.net, with a choice of phone types.)iTouch Australia If you're using a WAP phone, you'll find the service at http://wap.itouch.com.au. Offering real-time share prices, and a range of news, entertainment and information services, iTouch feels substantial - there's plenty of content below the first-level menus. News items are current, with detailed, multi-paragraph text. The reference section is geared to travellers, with world times, a currency converter, a language translator and a hotel guide, complete with hotlinked phone numbers and approximate room rates. The lifestyle menu offers almost everything you need for geek-fulfilment - recipes, motivational quotes, and the Dates-That-Click matchmaking service.

AusWAP

AusWAP (www.auswap.com.au/wap/) offers an Australian phone directory as the first menu item. Telstra's Whereis Locality Guide is a potentially useful addition, but was offline when I clicked the link. News and stock market quotes are delivered through links to ninemsn - the news is thorough and timely, but the stock market prices have a built-in 20-minute lag. AusWAP helps organise your social life, too - the "What's On?" service provides a Sydney-based entertainment guide, and the "Movie Times" option links to screening schedules for Sydney and Melbourne. A quick link to eBay means you can keep tabs on your online auction bids.

WapMeBaby

A final link from Auswap leads to the ninemsn WapMeBaby site - yet another portal, which is home base for many of the services offered through Auswap. Adding flavour to the mix, you'll find a horoscope, and a page of beauty tips. More useful is the link to Ticketek, where you can search for events, and even book tickets online. eWAP Located at http://ewap.com.au, this is one of the few Australian sites to surface on international WAP search engines. It's a travel guide, which promises local information on a region-by-region basis. Nice idea, but a quick sampling of the restaurant and entertainment guides indicates very little depth.

The deeper you drill, the less information you'll find - and the only entertainment option offered for my part of the city had two typos on the single small screen of text. eWAP is a work in progress.

Ansett

Ansett has been quick to set up a WAP-enabled site at www.ansett.com.au/wap/ - so far, though, it's disappointing. While you can check the balance of your Global Rewards points, and take a look at regular flight schedules, there's no provision for online booking, nor any live update on arrival and departure times.

There's more . . .

Keep searching, and you'll find plenty more. But it's more of the same. News services are alive and well; sports updates and movie guides are up and running - but I suspect secure transactions are not quite ready for prime time. While you're browsing, take a look at www.bango.net - they're offering an innovative service that converts WAP addresses into simple numbers. And, naturally, you won't have to look too far to find the first WAP-based sex site. Cybersex, at http://wap.cybersex.nl, comes complete with tiny 200-dot images of what I think are meant to be bare-naked ladies.

Just add plenty of imagination - which sums up the current world of WAP quite nicely.

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Phil Campbell

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