June 22, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
The “Sherpa” application is being touted as a major selling point of the now-officially announced T-Mobile USA myTouch phone. Sherpa learns a user’s activities and provides nearby establishments that may interest him or her. For instance, someone who frequently searches for places to buy music would be alerted about a nearby record store. The same concept would apply to people who enjoy Indian food, comic book fans, fashion addicts, and several other points in between.
Sherpa is an Android location-aware search tool exclusive* to T-Mobile USA similar to other Android GPS-friendly apps. Each point of interest app will need a hook to separate itself from the pack, and the “learning” feature fits the bill.
Sherpa is the work of Geodelic, a small company based in Santa Monica, Calif. Based on information and a short video showcased on its website, T-Mobile USA snagged a great feature.
There are two forms of recommendation in Sherpa. One is the aforementioned learning based on past visits and searches. The second deals with “Event alerts” that announce happenings relevant to the individual. Someone constantly searching for music stores would be notified about their city’s jazz festival or classic rock concert. The “Cage Match” event alert seen in the first screenshot means the person probably searches for comedy clubs or improv often.
Sherpa provides a “Location Carousel” visual representation of nearby establishments and additional information when selected. The app uses a tabbed view so users can easily switch between the listings for nearby clubs, banks, or eateries.
Much like the renewed Google Maps, it provides calling information, driving directions, and user ratings. It also offers reviews from popular websites like Citysearch, Yelp, and ZAGAT. You’ll also find integrated movie showtimes and reviews, reservation options, and flight status or baggage restrictions when flying.
Remember in Minority Report when Tom Cruise’s character walks by a wall and it triggers video advertisements that know his name and gender, so they depict guy products like sports cars and beer? Something like that may appear in Sherpa. According to the Geodelic official website, the company provides “location-targeted marketing triggered by vicinity and relevance.” Sherpa is centered on learning what is relevant to individuals, so the ads and promotional offers would be more likely to speak to one’s interests.
American Android users will get to test Sherpa’s virtues when the myTouch is released on T-Mobile USA. On paper, it’s actually quite appealing. We’ll know if that translates to real-world success in July. Here’s a video demo and interview of Geodelic from Google I/O.
Note: T-Mobile USA calls Sherpa an “exclusive app” on the device’s official website, but you’ll notice in this video that Geodelic wants to get this “in as many hands as possible” and the official website even displays a video with iPhone usage. It’s unclear what exclusivity T-Mobile USA is claiming; perhaps Sherpa is a custom version of Geodelic with a few enhancements.
UPDATE: I spotted this in a Gelodelic press release sent out yesterday:
Geodelic will offer Sherpa on the Android market this summer. Similar applications that support advanced location technologies and a rich mobile browsing experience will be available later this year for other devices and platforms.