MOBILE phone giant Orange has pioneered a new system to turn its phones into navigation devices.

The system will allow Orange users to find the nearest hospital, cash-machine, garage or even cinema.

Orange will launch the UK's first multimedia location based service next week that will be available to all Orange wireless application protocol (WAP) customers.

The new location-based service features location enabled content from Airflash Inc, the development platform provider for building location-based wireless applications.

Richard Brennan, commercial director at Orange said: "The AirFlash trial has been a great success. The usage patterns amongst trial users demonstrated real demand for location-based services.

"The time is right to make these location-sensitive services available to all our customers. Orange believes these services will become as ubiquitous and important to the mobile customer as answer phone and caller ID."

The announcement marks the successful conclusion of a five month trial with Airflash, using 5,800 Orange customers from around the UK.

It is believed to herald an early glimpse of the kind of applications that will transform mobile phones into valuable sources of data information.

Initially the Orange service will consist of Orange Pages Directory - a location-relevant business directory offering directions to locations such as the nearest pub, restaurant and cinema - emergency services directory, a cash machine finder and a hotel finder.

Orange, and its competitors, are under severe pressure from investors to develop money-spinning applications to pay back the huge sums invested in spectrum licences.