Phone App Can Send Message, Map of User's Location

I'm running late. I'm stuck in traffic. I'm stopping by the market for a bottle of wine. I'm circling for a parking space. I'm just down the block. I'm right outside.

Today, people trade these little updates with a string of cell phone calls and text messages. But companies including Google Inc. are betting that will change as more smart phones come with GPS technology built in.

Glympse Inc., a Seattle-area startup, is the latest in the field. Its application, also called Glympse, lets smart phone users send a message and a link to a map marking their location to anyone in their address book.

On a computer, recipients can watch in real time as the sender circles the block looking for an open parking space. (On a mobile browser, recipients would have to hit refresh.)

Glympse users can save oft-repeated messages, like Dad's daily confirmation that he's picked up his daughter from day care and is on the way home. Glympses can be set to expire, preventing recipients from tracking senders' moves for longer than desired.

The startup, founded last year by three Microsoft Corp. veterans, Bryan Trussel, Jeremy Mercer and Steve Miller, hopes to set itself apart from similar programs like Loopt and Google Latitude by not requiring Glympse users to set up a new social network. Recipients don't even need to download the program, though they get a slicker interface if they do.

By contrast, Google's program only works if everyone uses its Gmail service, and Loopt requires all users to download the application and set up a network of friends.

Glympse launched a free "beta" test version of the service Tuesday for T-Mobile's G1 Android phone. Trussel, the chief executive officer, said Glympse hopes to support the free service with location-sensitive advertising at some point.

The company said versions for iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile and other devices are coming soon.