||World Mate Pro for Smartphones
||$32.95 per year
If you have a smartphone and you are a traveler, especially an international traveler, you’ll want to give World Mate Pro your careful consideration. World Mate Pro is a collection of invaluable services that every traveler needs including weather forecasts, weather maps, flight status updates, world clocks, world map, and currency converters. What a powerful package. Note that it is a yearly subscription service.
Installation is straightforward and requires that your Pocket PC be docked with a desktop computer. I would think that a travel program such as this would also have a CAB file available for those on the go. I believe this convenience would improve sales for the developer.
To register and activate the program, you have to input your code, which is three set series of capital letters separated by dashes, a tedious task on a telephone keypad.
When you have installed the software, it asks you for your home city and then presents you with a limited list of choices. My hometown was not represented, which hurt my feelings.
I was surprised to find that World Mate insinuates itself without permission on the Today Screen with a three-day weather forecast. Tapping anywhere on the World Mate pane brings up the program in the Clock view. And, it knocked off my Battery Pack Pro program, which I didn’t appreciate either.
Let’s take a quick walk through the various components of the program to better understand how this service functions. Highlighting the desktop Word Mate display panel, pressing the action button will take you by default to the World Mate menu.
The Clocks screen displays the current time for your hometown and four additional cities around the world. Your large hometown display across the top of the screen displays the current time in an analog clock along with the date and weather information. In the other four boxes, the time, date, and location are shown. You may scroll to another location, select Menu, and there will be a number of choices including more detailed weather information, or you may change the city.
Along the bottom of the Clock screen is a row of icons representing all the other World Mate Services. Below this row are two choices: Tabs and Tools. Tabs is a redundant list of World Mate Services. The Tools menu offers you the opportunity to set alarms, update forecasts, renew subscription, check on flight status credit, and edit cities. It is here that you may specify Centigrade or Fahrenheit and perform auto updates. In the edit cities mode, you may actually add new cities to the list, but you have to know the latitude and longitude, or it will not appear on the map in the right place. Now you place your hometown on the list, and you don’t have to have your feelings hurt anymore. But, I had to select Alaska time to get the display to read Pacific Time.
I remember many moons ago I used to have a back-lighted wall version of the world time map on the wall in my office and thought it was pretty spiffy. Then I was surprised to find the same thing in my first Palm Pilot. But, in World Mate, it’s more than a world time map because it also allows you to set alarms and display the local time at any location of your choice. Scrolling across the bottom of the screen, you will notice the selected city, local time, currency value, and date. Selecting the Menu tab at the bottom will enable you to change the location. Also note that the selected city is indicated on the map. Choosing the Services tab brings up the main menu of World Map utilities.
I expected the weather page to display the same set of cities as the Clocks page, but here you are given the opportunity to select any cities you wish by country/city or by U.S. zip code. Of course, you must go online to update the weather data. The result is a very comprehensive two-page display of weather for the selected city plus tabs for a five-day forecast. The Menu tab at the bottom allows you to change cities, update forecasts, and display animated weather maps.
This screen displays a grid with three currencies for entering and reporting computed values for the currencies selected from a drop-down list. A tab at the bottom allows you to update current values when you’re online.
This service is an invaluable tool for any traveler abroad. It’s easy to use, easily updatable, and gives convenient access from your Smartphone for instant updates.
The flight status data are derived from the OAG (Official Airline Guide). Obviously you must be online to use this service. I think it is unfortunate that you can only check flight status, and not flight schedules, as you can in the Pocket PC version. At least you don’t have to pay extra for it.
This service is particularly important for the world traveler because the OAG will not display on any Pocket PC or Smartphone browser, and this is an important consideration.
World Mate Pro have done a superb job in putting together a useful package of information services for the traveller. If you are a frequent traveler whose time is worth money, it would be false economy not to have this useful bundle of services available to you. The ability to check flight schedules could be worth a fortune in itself.
This program is almost universal in its PDA applications, for it works with almost every brand and flavor of PDA and smartphone. The only problem is that even though you have an account, you will need a different access code for your Pocket PC and your Smartphone. A universal code would be a welcome improvement.
The version I reviewed for Pocket PCs is more robust with more features such as desktop companion, converters for various measurements, clothes sizes, and a databases containing worldwide phone prefixes, two-letter airline codes, and three-letter airport codes. Of course, the fee for these services on the Smartphone is less than half of what it is for the Pocket PC.
That you can only check flight status and not flight schedules as you can on the Pocket PC version is something I would like to see included in future versions.
I suggest that future versions include a CAB file so that it can be installed directly into a handheld device without the use of an intermediary computer for those of us on the go. I hope that future editions will allow you to input your hometown on the opening screen. At first I was put off by World Mate Pro insinuating itself on my Today screen on start-up and bumping off Battery Pack Pro. But, a quick check revealed that you can turn it off or on in the Settings Menu under the home screens option.
I would highly recommend this program to anyone who travels abroad frequently. It goes a long way toward turning your smartphone into a travel agency.