Microsoft has launched a new mobile social networking service, called Slam.
The beta service has been launched by the Microsoft Research Community Technologies Group research project and developed in conjunction with the Microsoft Photo and Imaging eXperience (PIX) team.
Slam is a mobile device-based application that enables group-centric real-time communication, location awareness and photo-sharing.
When a user sends a message in Slam, it is automatically sent to everyone in a given group.
Smartphone users that with the Slam client installed will be buzzed to notify them of a new message, along with an indication on the phone's home screen. SMS users will receive the message as an SMS from the Slam server.
A major feature of Slam is that users can also see where other people in their groups are on a map.
The Slam client will periodically let the server know where it is, then, when someone in a group requests it, the server generates a map using MSN’s Virtual Earth with everybody’s location marked.
This feature does not require a GPS device, as it determines locations based on the cellular towers the phone detects. This feature only works on smartphones. For security, the feature can also be switched off.
The Slam application will run on any Windows Mobile SmartPhone. The Slam smartphone client does not use SMS to send and receive messages, it uses HTTP to post messages to the server and to poll for new messages.
Slam uses the mobile operator’s data pipe on smartphones and the usual texting service on standard SMS-enabled phones. Users with smartphones can choose just to use SMS, but this limits their functionality.