Thursday, January 11, 2007

iPhone Killer Apps

Since Apple's new iPhone runs OS X we should be seeing some killer applications for it soon. Here are three of my favorites:

1. iShopper. Scenario: u r shopping and find an item u really like but the price is 2 high. Using your iPhone's camera u upload a picture of the item to an "object search engine" such as The search engine returns a list of similar items available in your local shopping area, along with current prices and availability. It may turn out there is an exact same item just down the mall at another store, so it just saved u a lot of time.

2. iPlacer. Scenario1: Your friend calls u and the iPhone simultaneously auto-places your friend on a Google map at his exact location. Now you can keep track of each other's location. Scenario 2: U find yourself in an unknown city or neighborhood and need a taxi. Your problem is that there are no street signs so u normally couldn't give your location to a taxi. Not a problem anymore because u and the taxi have iPhones and the taxi driver can pinpoint you.

3. iGuide. Scenario: u r touring an unfamiliar territory, such as a shopping, restaurant, or historical district. Using your iPhone's camera and its GPS you point it at a restaurant. It recognizes the restaurant and gives u its website, contact info and menu. U then point your phone at a historical landmark and the iPhone does a search and gives u all sorts of historical background info of what u r looking at.

4. iEvent. I first thought that this app should be called iSportster, but then I realized it applies to more than just sporting events. The concept comes from the movie The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. In the movie we see groups of kids watching the cars race by and using their phones' built-in videocams to broadcast the race to other groups of kids further down the racetrack. At every turn of the racetrack there are kids doing the same thing with their phones, thereby eveyone is viewing the race from different angles in real time. The phones are able to broadcast the video to other phones.

Now with the iPhone and all its glorious features, this concept can be refined. The scene: u r at a basketball game at a stadium equipped with WiFi. As u walked into the stadium your phone received a seating map of stadium. Many other fans are there sitting all over the stadium with their own iPhones. Each fan is videocaming their view of the game and is being broadcast to other iPhones. In addition, the TV cameras at the stadium are also broadcasting, thru WiFi, their video footage to the iPhones. With your iPhone u view the seating map of the stadium and see all the pin markers of all the iPhones and TV cameras available for viewing. U pick a camera and view the game from that angle in real time. U have to go to the rest room but don't want to miss a second of the game, so u take your iPhone with u. Their are also people outside the stadium with iPhones who could not get a ticket to the game, but are able to view the game thru all the available cameras as well.

Now think about a local high school baseball game, where there is no WiFi. Many fans with iPhones sitting all around are also able to share video footage by broadcasting to each other because the iPhone s also operate on the Cingular network. To navigate to different videocams, each iPhone can pull up a Google map of their location with pin markers of other local iPhones sharing their video footage. By clicking on one of these pin markers u can change your viewing angle of the game in real time.

Because this applies to more than just games, think about what other types of events this could be useful at. For example, at a parade u often wonder what's coming down the road next. Well up the road there are people with iPhones videocaming the parade and u can see their footage thru your iPhone. Think about how a security officer with an iPhone can tap into all the security cameras at a store no matter where he is.

5. iRemote. When your iPhone rings and you are at home and have an AppleTV dvr, then have the caller id appear on the screen. iPhone and AppleTV should be able to communicate with each other out of the box. This is almost the same as what Time Warner Cable does thru their cable and digital phone services. When your digital phone rings at home, the caller id is shown on the screen. Plus you can browse thru your phone's call log on your TV. You should be able to do the same call log browsing on the AppleTV. In addition, you should be able to use the AppleTV as another interface to all your functionality on your iPhone. In other words, just use your AppleTV to view everything on your iPhone, except you won't be able to use your fingers to navigate, but rather u will need to use your AppleTV remote control. This way u won't have to go find your iPhone when u are watching TV. Just answer the call on your AppleTV. The show u r watching will be muted, while u take the call or listen to your messages.

To carry the AppleTV and iPhone integration a bit further, imagine this. Some commercials have a website and a phone number that appear on your TV. Just point and click on a phone number with your AppleTV remote and the iPhone will auto-dial the number so u can start talking right away. Or click on a website url appearing on your TV and the iPhone will auto-navigate there. So u r watching a pizza commercial and decide u want to order pizza. Normally u would go hunting for your phone book to look up the phone number of your local pizza place. Now u will be able to click on a pizza commercial and the iPhone will automatically call your local pizza place so u can place your order right away.

What r your killer apps for the iPhone? Need some inspiration? Try Googling "iPhone Killer App"


Anonymous said...

For the iGuide, I imagine the iPhone's camera does not need to be used, but rather a built-in sensor for determining which direction you are facing. The GPS location is a point that needs to be combined with the direction you are facing. This info will then be used to search the DB to determine what u are looking at.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fidel

Nice idea, nice killer apps too. And thanks for stopping by at my blogsite as well and leaving a comment.

A couple of quick comments. As far as I can see, the iPhone doesn't have GPS (currently) so perhaps this needs to wait for the next releases of the iPhone. Eventually GPS will be in most phones. But there are other "LBS" ie Location-Based Service technologies already in the cellular network, ie on Cingular, that can triangulate your position depending on technologies and geography and urban/rural setting to anything from half a mile (enough to track your vehicle fleet, is your driver on the route or has he stopped at a bar) to 300 feet, enough to get accuracy to a city block.

Further things exist such as "EOTD" Enhanced Observed Time Differential which reduce the error to 50 feet or less, meaning you can identify the individual buildings, usually enough to find your friend at the amusement park or concert etc.

Of your killer apps, two exist already. Italy was the first to introduce the tourist guide based on your cellphone's location back in 2000. It will actually tell you when you are in the forest asking for tourist information, that you have nothing of interest near you...

And the friends-tracker service was first commercially launched in Finland I think in 2002. Its expanded so much that today you can have for example your hunting dog tracked (with a GPS-assisted cellular collar) or for forest management, they actually track every single tree digitally out of forests, to do intelligent forest management, rather than chopping down whole acre-loads of trees at a spot.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Mr. Besilly said...

You might consider adding iDating to your list. Less of an app more of a lifestlye choice. :)