RSS, Fire Eagle join LightPole's lookup posse

New customization features make LightPole, a hub for location-aware services, heaps more appealing to the masses because it lets users do what users like to do best.

If I had to describe LightPole in 10 words or fewer, I'd call it an interface for accessing location-aware services from mobile phones. More than anything else, LightPole's downloadable application offers a listings and mapping format that many location-based services, such as Yelp and Yahoo Local, can squeeze into to gain more visibility or avoid creating their own rich cell phone applications.

I added the CNET channel; the rest are LightPole's.
I added the CNET channel; the rest are LightPole's. (Credit: CNET Networks)

It works like this. Users looking for stuff--a good restaurant, happy hour specials, or Internet cafe--can click open LightPole, select a service (MappyHour and Hotspotr are two more,) and can read about the establishment, call the establishment, and map the results.

New customization features, announced Wednesday, make the application heaps more appealing to the masses because it lets users do what users like to do best--add their own content by creating channels online.

From LightPole's Web site, you input any RSS feed or site URL corresponding to geotagged content into the blank field to transform it into a channel. A Google map and Flickr stream are two examples. A few more clicks and a manual phone update later and the content is ready to access. I'll admit that mapping the CNET feed was a little useless (CNET headquarters doesn't move around much,) but I like the flexibility and relative ease of relying on LightPole's partnerships for my most-wanted content.

Fire Eagle

Two other announcements join ranks with the news of the now-open channels. LightPole's integration with Yahoo-owned Fire Eagle, a nexus for managing your location information. This integration lets registered users of other Fire Eagle-supported location services, Loki for example, post their whereabouts. LightPole will pick it up from there.

In a final enhancement, two of LightPole's partners, MappyHour and Hotspotr, have added functionality that lets users add favorite happy hour lairs and Internet cafes to the communities' Web sites from the LightPole application. There are still some usability hitches (a few too many menus and clicks for my taste,) but these second helpings already make LightPole more useful.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.