Grope: Helio Drift GPS Buddy Stalker Vs. Dodgeball

Hey, you know our exclusive on Helio's Frost White, GPS-enabled Drift phone? Well we've had a bit of time with the phone, and basic stats aside, the buddy finding, GPS, and mapping features are outstanding. But I'm not sure if its better than the combination of the already-downloadable Google Maps and Dodgeball buddy finding service.

Our tour begins with the very robust location-aware Google maps implementation:

Grope: Helio Drift GPS Buddy Stalker Vs. Dodgeball


The screen's QVGA (320 by 240 pixel) res shows tons of details on Google maps, including satellite view (but no hybrid view, unlike the java version I have downloaded onto my Sony Ericsson.) Coolest thing ever is that the Drift can map your current location with a single click. It feels as if the receiver in the phone is very quick. So quick that away from a window, and within seconds, it mapped my location within 200 feet. Which is too fast to be believed, so I think its using triangulation of cell towers. Either way, you can use the current location to set your starting point for turn by turn directions (of course, without voice nav, and with such a small screen, you'd better have someone sitting shotgun directing your drive). The phone also works with Google Maps Traffic, which shows congestion on major roads with a few minutes delay. Green lines mean the cars are flowing freely, while yellow and red mean delays.
Then there's the buddy finder.

Grope: Helio Drift GPS Buddy Stalker Vs. Dodgeball


Basically, you can use the phone to find friends on you buddy list, with a few conditions. They have to have a Drift phone, too. They have to be on your buddy list. They need to have pinged the server with their most recent location. Still, very cool.

Grope: Helio Drift GPS Buddy Stalker Vs. Dodgeball


Helio shipped Gizmodo's phones with each other on buddy lists. I can ping buddies to ask them to update location, and I can see their location on mapquest, too. (Yep, it doesn't use Gmaps for buddy finding.) Nextel has something like this so employers can spy on their lazy workers...BTW, Jason, get back to work, damn it.

Grope: Helio Drift GPS Buddy Stalker Vs. Dodgeball


Those familiar with google's Dodgeball service will recognize the concept. This is like that, but Dodgeball's feature list (crush lists, ex girlfriend stealth, photos, friends of friends, yelp-like search engine) is extensive, and although you have to check in to the system using SMS, well, lets face it, everyone has SMS, and I think its rare to find two Drift users who aren't already bosom buddies. BTW, two gorgeous people I know found each other on Dodgeball, so its maybe worth a shot if you haven't tried it before.

Grope: Helio Drift GPS Buddy Stalker Vs. Dodgeball


Anyhow, back to the Drift. Very cool, super-futuristic GPS and buddy finding features. Mapping yes, useful, but you can already download Gmaps to phones now. Buddy finding, very cool, even if of limited use. The phone itself is basically a high speed 3G mall, with most of the functionality limited to buying stuff for a few bucks (vids, music, etc) and the browser still doesn't quite feel like it can provide a fraction of the power of the mobile opera browser. The hardware is solid, but until more phones have buddy finding in an open standard, it seems like a fantastic idea that'll work best if you muscle all your Saturday night buddies into getting one, too. Or getting Dodgeball.

Helio Drift [Gizmodo]