Wireless Application Protocol

By Stan Miastkowski, PC World |  Development

The list of things you can do with a WAP phone is slowly increasing as WAP sites and services roll out. E-mail is standard with most services, and you can get some basic information such as news (from CNN.com), weather (from Weather.com), and financial information ( from Bloomberg.com), to name a few.

In addition, Yahoo! offers a portal specifically for wireless users. E-commerce applications, not surprisingly, are also starting to become available. Amazon was one of the first Web retailers to offer WAP services, and this summer, Charles Schwab will launch its PocketBroker investing service for WAP-enabled phones.

Trends in wireless devices are likely to encourage the use of WAP. Upcoming mobile phones with built-in GPS receivers that pinpoint your location will allow you to automatically receive, for example, restaurant information or travel directions.

But for the longer term, the future of WAP is a bit hazy. Higher-speed wireless networks (up to 1 mbps) will start to become available in the next two to three years, as will better WAP devices with larger screens (some with color). When it comes to wireless, analysts agree that it's not likely to be a one-size-fits-all world. Carl Zetie, an analyst for Giga Information Group, says it's just not clear what wireless services people will use. The future of WAP is still up in the air.

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