With the new iPhone SDK, it’s just a matter of
time before we see a wave of new applications. We expect a lot of popular web 2.0 apps to offer an iPhone version.
Native Twitter, Facebook and Flickr clients for iPhone will run faster than their in-browser
versions and will take advantage of the impressive Apple UI libraries. But there is an entirely new breed of applications also coming to iPhone.
These apps simply would not be possible without a device like iPhone.
The major theme
of this new wave of apps will be blending of the physical and digital worlds, using iPhone as the bridge.
In this post we take a look at what’s coming.
1. Reality Tagging
Tagging reality is not new, but will be much better done with iPhone. Here’s how it will work. You take a picture of
a landmark, then comment and add tags. The phone will automatically geo-tag it and send the picture to a photo sharing service on the Web. Now anyone
in the world can find your picture by exact geo location, or by its tags. Reality tagging will be like a distributed Google Earth,
but for pictures.
2. People Tagging
Even better than tagging landmarks, you will be able to use iPhone to tag people. You can already take a picture
and assign it to a contact. It is just a matter of time before these pictures will available to a search engine.
Doing it on the phone will be quick and fun. In a couple of years the problem that we described in this post will go away.
3. Reality Recognition
Reality recognition will be fueled by reality tagging and advanced image recognition. Imagine going on a hike and coming
across a tree that you have not seen before. You will point iPhone at the tree and
instantly a Wikipedia page about it will load. Or imagine that it’s your first time in New York City. You point an iPhone at
the Chrysler building (because you think that it is the Empire State Building) and again information about the landmark will
be paged to your iPhone.
4. Physical Social Networks
Today’s social networks exist on the internet, but mobile technology is going to bring it to the physical world.
You will be able to walk into a restaurant, open up your iPhone and see a list of your friends who have been to the
place. You can flip through their comments and ratings, share comments on the menu – all from the palm of your hand.
Similarly, standing next to a painting in the Louvre, you will be able to instantly find out what your friends thought of it.
Looking at this broadly, as we discussed in this post,
advances in mobile computing enable us to overlay the digital on top of our physical world.
5. Personalized Travel Guides
Travel is one of the most fun things we do in life and one of the most innovative businesses.
People love tours and tour guides who tell them about the landmarks and history of new places.
Now imagine having personalized tours of any location of the world available.
With the touch of a button, information about your current location will appear in your hand. Even better,
the tours will be custom tailored to you, since software will know your tastes and travel preferences.
6. Digital and Physical Treasure Hunt
Travel is fun, but not as much fun as games. With the latest spike in social games, we
are sure to see interesting activity in mobile games as well. And with the iPhone, we will be able
to play games that take place in both the physical and digital worlds. The clues will be scattered over the
Internet and cities such as NYC. With your iPhone you can navigate your way through this
fun physical and mental challenge, showing off your knowledge of the web and NYC.
7. Distributed Mobile Games
Casual gaming is especially on the rise these days, fueled by social networks. Applying this model
to mobile devices is particularly interesting since it enables people to tap into, not web-based, but
fully-fledged 3D games – anywhere. The possibilities range from setting the mood of a game based on
the surroundings, to connecting players based on geo location. And even without tying the games to
the physical world, the fact that people can tap into the network at any time is game changing (pardon the pun).
8. Credit Card and Biometrics as Software
The business world is also going to benefit from mobile innovation. Soon credit cards will become software.
You will walk into a store and to pay, you simply choose a credit card button. The iPhone will communicate
securely with the cash register in the store, via Blue Tooth or Wi-Fi. The safety of the transaction will
be ensured via biometrics. For example, a clerk in the store might ask you to place a randomly selected
finger onto the screen of your iPhone to verify that the phone belongs to you (assuming that all phones
are securely initiated in the store and may not be reset).
9. Paperless Receipts & Digital Business Cards
We wrote here last week about the coming
demise of paper as a transport medium. Among the things we discussed was the end of receipts. Even today some companies are
switching to email receipts, but devices like iPhone now make it possible to manage all receipts in a digital format.
You will get a receipt of your purchase on your screen via Bluetooth or Wifi. It will also be emailed to you
and backed up to remote store. The advantage to having it on the phone is that if you want to return it, you
can simply bring it up and beam it back to the clerk’s computer.
Another piece of paper that is coming to an end is the business card.
More and more people connect via LinkedIn these days, but they still exchange business cards when they meet.
Palm did a good job early on of solving this problem – the business card could be beamed between the two devices.
iPhone is likely to bring the digital business card exchange back in fashion and even make it big.
This generation of software will automatically add the cards to contacts and connect the two of you on LinkedIn.
10. Medical records as Software
The medical industry uses the most advanced software when it comes to diagnostics, but
also uses the most outdated ones when it comes to record keeping. Having your medical history available
on the mobile phone will be a great way to enable all of your doctors and pharmacies to better communicate
around your health. Because medical records are still mostly in paper, often doctors are not aware
of all the treatments and drugs that a patient is taking. Having a simple, portable way to move your medical
history around would make things much simpler.
11. Physical Browsing & Digital Shopping
The last two applications have to do with shopping. The first one is browsing things in the physical world and
instantly buying them online. The experience of browsing books on Barnes and Nobles is different; and for most
of us is superior than browsing on Amazon. But prices are better online, so we typically end up taking notes
and then buying online. With iPhone it will be possible to take a picture of a book in the store and have it
immediately appear in your Amazon shopping cart. The same can apply to many things, including clothing, houseware, etc.
12. Location/time-based deals
If you were be open to it, stores would love to compete for your business.
If you are about to buy a camera at BestBuy and there is a Circuit City near by, they would be willing
to win your business by bidding a lower price. Imagine pointing the phone to a camera and getting instant
bids from neighborhood stores. Sure you can do this now online, but a lot of people still buy the old fashioned way –
by first holding the thing in their hands.
The applications that we have discussed are very exciting and will change the way we do things.
If you look carefully at each of the 12 apps above, you can see bigger trends among them. The first group is applications that mesh together
the physical and digital worlds. The main benefit is that it enhances the physical experience by overlaying digital smarts.
group is games – always part of our culture and games evolve, adapt and re-invent themselves with new technologies.
Then comes the group of applications that aims to improve things we carry around. Credit and business cards, receipts
and even medical records are on track to become software.
The last group of applications is focused on innovation in
shopping. Interesting opportunities will arise from combining the best of both physical and digital shopping experiences.
And now please think about the applications that you would love to see on your iPhone and share your ideas with us.