Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) thinks it can help you find what you're searching for -- no matter what that is, or where you are -- thanks to a new local search application for phones on its network. It's a logical way for Sprint to persuade its users to pay for more features for their phones.

Through a service dubbed "Find It," Sprint users will be able to call up driving directions, movie times, ATM locations, and restaurants in their surrounding area. Interestingly -- maybe even creepily -- even if users don't quite know where they are, their phones will. The new service taps into the same location-based technology that has long been used to allow the tracking of cell phones in case of emergency. Sprint has teamed up with InfoSpace (NASDAQ:INSP) to provide the directory information for nearby businesses and landmarks, and it will be available on more than 20 Sprint and Nextel phones.

Search by cell is hardly a new concept. You may remember that last year, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced a downloadable search service for cell phone users. Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) also offers a similar product.

Of course, for those who are constantly, hopelessly lost -- or just like the peace of mind -- there are always GPS navigation systems. Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) offers navigation products for consumers; judging by its last quarter's results, those products are proving popular.

News reports indicate that Sprint's new service is reasonably simple to use, which could be one of its selling points. It's no secret that driving while tinkering with your cell phone can be a bad idea, and too much fussy button-pushing also detracts considerably from many mobile services' appeal. But having such a service easily and instantly available on a device that most of us carry anyway -- as opposed to a separate device, or a feature that must be downloaded to a phone -- is a great idea. Sprint plans to charge $2.99 per month for the service, and the potential for charging merchants for advertising could sweeten the sales outlook down the road.

I've long thought that cell phone customers would be reluctant to pay a premium for some mobile services, but this one seems pretty savvy, especially for people who are reluctant to buy GPS navigation products.

Sprint's new service makes more sense to me than other cell phone bells and whistles, such as the ability to watch movies or TV on your phone. Will this prove to be one of the services that will help push cell phones beyond mere tools for conversation? We'll have to wait and find that answer for ourselves.

Garmin is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. To discover the other companies David and Tom Gardner have recently recommended to subscribers, click here for a 30-day free trial.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.