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The purpose of this paper is a an in-depth review of a mobile city guide: uB-Mobile. First, some background information on uB-Mobile will be briefly reviewed. Next, the purpose and function of uB-Mobile?s WAP site will be examined with particular attention paid to the ?user experience?. Finally, some recommendations for improvement will be made.
Background of uB-Mobile
According to uB-Mobile, it is a “leading provider of enabling products and services in the mobile environment with focus on the media industry” (uB-Mobile Home, 2001). The company began its business in 1989 by providing Global Positioning Systems (GPS) solutions for navigation and Short Message Service (SMS) applications for vehicle tracking and traffic information. uB-Mobile?s entry into the mobile web application arena was a natural. Then, in 1999, they quickly took a commanding lead in the industry and in 2000 signed a contract with AOL UK to make their city guides available on the AOL United Kingdom portal. uB-Mobile?s City Guide came in first place for the most innovative and entertaining mobile web application during the 2001 Cellmania WAPPY Awards? (Gold for uB-mobile, 2001). uB-Mobile is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Purpose and Function
One of uB-Mobile?s most known applications is their mobile city guide for wireless devices. It effectively combines mobility and instant access to information to internet enabled mobile phones. The evaluation of this mobile application (http://www.ub-wap.com) was
accomplished using the Openwave SDK, WAP Edition 5.0 (http://www.openwave.com/products/developer_
products/). This application was approached for evaluation as a user would use it ? to get some useful or required information. This test began with a hypothetical vacation trip to London, England. While in London planning daily activities, information on tours of Buckingham Palace, the Home of Queen Elizabeth, might be required. Using uB-mobiles City Guide and an internet enabled cell phone, the task began.
The most data entry / key pad intensive activity of the whole exercise was entering the URL for uB-Mobile?s WAP site: www.ub-wap.com. After that, all selections were menu driven. The ?home? page (Figure 2) for the WAP site has selections for uB-City?s top five cities or alphabetical selection list for choosing the desired city. uB-Mobile currently covers 46 worldwide travel desinations (Gold for uB-mobile, 2001). uB-Mobile?s guide for London could be found either by looking at the top five cities (Figure 3), which lists the major capitol cities of Europe, or scrolling through the list of cities in the j, k, l selection. An overabundance of information was found after arriving at uB-London WAP site (Figure 4). Selections ranged from dining to entertainment to ground and air transportation. The task at hand of finding out about tours of the Queen?s house led to the Discover London menu item. Again, an extensive amount of information was available about touring London (Figure 5). The Sightseeing selection was chosen. Once more, a very generous list of sightseeing venues was offered including the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum and Buckingham Palace (Figure 6).
After only six WAP cards, the desired tour information was found. In addition, a vast amount of information on London that is available at the touch of a finger was also discovered. Further investigation on this site would turn up the same quantity and quality of information. See Figure 7 and the full text of Figure 7 for an example of the quality of information provided.
Most users are going to find uB-Mobile on the world wide web before finding them on the mobile internet. The initial impression of the user on both the wired and wireless internet is excellent. One reason for this is because uB-mobile offers their own WAP simulator (Figure 8) to allow users to use and explore their wireless site before hitting the road and paying roaming charges.
Site navigation is clear and simple, with enough categories and subcategories so it is generally easy to find desired information without making bizarre intuitive leaps. On pages that have long text that extends off the screen, the text scrolls to keep the user from manually scrolling horizontally. Another time saving feature is a call now link on pages that have telephone numbers associated with them. For this example, upon reaching the Buckingham Palace card, a call now link was present to initiate a call to the tourist information center at Buckingham Palace (see Figure 7). The format for all the countries listed is standardized allowing for a more pleasant experience for people who travel often.
A notable feature of uB-Mobile?s City Guide is the Mood Matcher?. The Mood Matcher? allows the user to select a “Location” and a “Mood” from a list. It then searches available establishments or activities to meet the user?s needs. For example Hungry + Covent Garden would generate additional criteria, the user can then choose from such as Indian, Japanese, or Vegetarian. Mood Matcher? guarantees a result and will always make a suggestion (uB-Wap Features, 2001). Other helpful features include a This Week In page that list special events going on in the city and pages with other miscellaneous information such as radio stations, currency exchange, and emergency telephone numbers (Dan, 2000; Rudkin, 2001).
Recommendations for Improvement
uB-Mobile?s City Guide is extremely well designed with only several very minor issues that detracted from the overall experience. A feature that is noticeably absent on most pages is a?back? button, although this is offset by some extent by a ?go to?? button that allows the user to maneuver between different menu levels (Dan, 2000; Rudkin, 2001). Although the Search function is placed on the first page of each City Guide, it appears at the end of the list which may cause users who know what they are looking for to scroll unnecessarily.
uB-Mobile?s City Guide has everything that a mobile city guide should have. Easy, intuitive navigation of pages that are full of information. uB-Mobile is constantly updating and adding new cities in their guide. Being this system is designed for and used in Europe, the only real drawback is going to be prohibitive high roaming fees. As soon as the European Community irons out continent wide mobile phone access, uB-Mobile?s service will be indispensable!
Dan. (November 30, 2000). A Veritable Library of Guidebooks. Retrieved October 9, 2001 from http://www.coolwapsiteoftheday.com/113000.phtml.
Johnson, Simon. (September, 2001) Revenue sharing: The only enduring incentive. OPENWAVE WML Pulse Europe. Retrieved October 9, 2001 from http://wmlpulse-europe.openwave.com/
Gold for uB-mobile. (March 3, 2001) Retrieved October 9, 2001, from
Rudkin, Charles. (March 3, 2001). Site review: Ub-mobile. Retrieved October 9, 2001, from http://www.wap.com/share/osas/cache/artid550422.html.
uB-Mobile Home. (2001). Retrieved October 9, 2001, from
uB-WAP City Guides. (2001). Retrieved October 9, 2001, from
uB-WAP Features. (2001). Retrieved October 9, 2001, from
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