Wireless application service provider Air2Web last week will unveil a service based on Java and XML that enterprises can use to deliver corporate data to wireless devices.
The service, called Always Interactive, works by companies that want to let users of handheld devices access corporate data, tell Air2Web what the data is and how it should be presented. Air2Web can accept calls from almost any device that connects via a wireless carrier.
Incoming requests from the wireless devices are handled by the Air2Web software. The software packages the request in XML and sends it to the customer's Web site. There, the needed data is pulled from the corporate databases, packaged again in XML and sent back to Air2Web. Finally, the Air2Web software creates a presentation display or voice message for the original device.
Air2Web's breadth of device support is what attracted Atlanta's package delivery giant United Parcel Service of America (UPS). The company, which is putting the final touches on a new wireless service, due out next month, will use the service to let handheld users track packages, find UPS drop-off boxes, determine the cost of shipping and find out how long shipments will take.
UPS already lets users of the wireless Palm VII access some of this information through Palm.net. But far more people are using pagers or mobiles that can send and get compact messages via the Short Message Service (SMS).
UPS evaluated 10 integrators and service providers. "Once they received an API from us, they could format our data and send it to an SMS or Research in Motion pager, or a Web phone," says Robert Conner, UPS' director of interactive marketing.
The core of Air2Web's service is BEA Systems' BEA WebLogic application server. Most of the software is written in Java, with some parts in C++. As a result, Air2Web plans to add support for some powerful transaction-oriented applications, not just information retrieval.
Air2Web is offering Always Interactive as an application platform, with an API that developers can call to make use of the wireless service instead of having to create their own.