It’s just about that time to have another go at Handmark’s Pocket Express. We’ve been covering these guys on the ‘Cool for nearly three years now, and we can certainly start taking a look at the long-term evolution of their software. In a nutshell, Pocket Express is a suite of mini-applications that are all accessible from a single page, called PageOne. They offer a few of their channels for free (Travel, News, Sports and Weather), and the rest (like Stocks, Entertainment, 411 Search, Maps, Extras and a cool feature called MobileCierge, which puts you on the phone with a live person who can help you find information on just about anything you need) will cost you $9.99/month. Sounds good, right? Let’s take a look.
The software is laid out rather neatly in a three by three square, allowing for quick access to services either by keypad or scrollball/wheel. An Extras tab features games, ringtones and other downloadables from Handmark while news headlines scroll along the top. These Associated Press top stories focus almost exclusively on American issues, which are of incidental consequence if you live anywhere else. Since I downloaded the GPS version of Pocket Express, one would hope location detection might include more pertinent content delivery.
When checking out any given channel, you’ll also have a banner ads running beneath the headlines. Now, for the free version of the software, it might make sense to throw ‘em in, but if you’re shelling out $10/month, you’d think at very least ads might be taken out. There are a lot of existing subscription models that function on that basis alone (i.e. pay up and you can get rid of the ads).
Pocket Express’ angle on integration is an interesting one. Instead of attempting to work with existing software on the device (such as BlackBerry Maps), Pocket Express is entirely encapsulated, attempting to have all the most useful applications for your mobile on the same screen. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t talk at all with your BlackBerry – you can add folks to your address book after finding them in 411. After having a chat with the Handmark folks, their big selling point for Pocket Express is the interoperability of each of their channels within the program. To be honest, beyond the convenience of having everything under one roof, the only real talking in between functions is with 411 lookups and mapping directions. Everything else (stocks, sports, news, weather, flights) doesn’t benefit much from being bundled with one another.