I have recently begun work on a new version of the thumbtribes client which will be specifically designed for an OpenMoko phone. I placed an order for a Neo 1973 as soon as the web shop went live. There appears to be some delays getting them out of the door. I am keen to see the state of the software on the device when it arrives.
The new mobile client will separate communication/messaging from the location-awareness component. It will simply be a GUI listing users in your defined proximity. You can then click on the user to retrieve profile/contact information. From that information you can decide the best way to contact them. My preferred method is still IRC.
User accounts will now be generated from the new website instead of via IRC. The website will also allow the user to manually specify their location etc. This location information will not be available to others but be used by the client if there is no GPS available.
The overall principle is still the same as described in the thumbtribes paper. The thumbtribes client will run continually together with a communication client like IRC. The user will now have a choice to use which ever communication client/method they prefer.
At the end of this month I will be at WINSYS 2007 in Barcelona to present my paper on thumbtribes and also chair a couple of sessions. Once I am back from that I will be able to dedicate some time to getting the new system up. I will take down the existing system during this transition.