Ufone’s U-Track Maps, A Sheer Disappointment

I was really excited to see U-Track maps‘ availability on Ufone‘s website. According to my earlier post, the usage charges are very high but I was still interested to check it out at least. As promised, here I come with a review of the solution.

Introduction

U-Track maps is an XHTML based mobile website. I was expecting it to be an installable application. Anyways, before I go in details of the application features, I must tell you that if you try using the solution, you will, almost instantly notice that its an integration with Naqsha.net. Well, Naqsha.net is one of the serious efforts done so far in navigation domain in Pakistan, but I must say, things are pretty pre-mature right now and Naqsha.net. Moreover, integrating with U-fone, they have tried to increaset there user base significantly, which is a good sign. On the other hand, they have not anticipated such big traffic loads, especially during the first few day’s free trial time and their site seems broken at several points (see below).

Solution Walk-through

As soon as I got a Ufone connection, I dived in and launched the device browser. The first link on ufone’s mobile site http://wap.ufone.com was U-track maps.

I opened it up, selected the city and the only thing I could do on the page was “Search”.

I typed a search string and and well, quite a long list of related items came up. I selected one of the item and I could see its location on somewhat nastily orange-themed rip-off from Google maps images. That’s it! You cant do much more than that.

The map that shows up, is well, kind of detailed but its in small size, its irritating orange and green colored, road and place names are hardly readable and until you know the city well you cant figure out much from this map. That really kills the need of navigation anyways. I could see three options under the map, 1) View Larger Image, 2) Make a route and 3) Search nearby, but all 3 of the links were broken (actually application crashed or something, was that because of the heavy traffic load?). See video for details.


U-Track Map, Walk-Through

Feature Feedback
Following is the feature list and comments for each feature:

Solution Type
Web-based mobile application/web-site. I expected it to be a GPS-enabled or at least location aware installable application.

Search Places
Search results are quite detailed ( the list is usually long) but they are irrelevant to your current location. In addition, only names of the search results are listed, no additional information like phone numbers, web links, email address, nothing! You can select a location and can view it on map.

View on Map
You can select one item from the search results and can view it on map. The site shows an image showing a street map with a marker showing the destination. If you select a road to be shown on map, it shows two markers named Start and End.

View larger map image
When viewing a map, you may want to see a detailed map. This feature is available but the link broken. (See video)

Make a route
This was the only exciting feature for me but unfortunately, this link was broken as well
(See video)

Search nearby
Link broken again (See video)

Review Summary
In short, the solution is a total-disappointment. Most of the features are not working, but even if all its features start working, it is no-where near its available competitions. I will soon write a post about its competitors.

The Good:

  • The application is browser based, so the number of supported handsets is very large.
  • A lot of places have been listed and are available for search, thanks to Naqsha.net

The Bad:

  • There is no way you can search near your current location, no self-location detection mechanism utilized (GPS or Cell tower location)
  • No details, phone numbers, email , web-link or photo etc. available for the public locations/businesses available in the search.
  • The names of the roads, places and locations are hardly readable on the map.
  • Orange color dominance on the map (just because of Ufone color) is really irritating.
  • No voice support (obviously being a web page) for people using it as in-car navigation system.
  • Too costly as discussed in my last post

The Ugly

  • Make-a-route option to your searched destination, the link is broken.
  • View large map, link broken
  • Search-nearby, link broken

I will soon write a detailed post on U-track map’s available competitions. Stay tuned!

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