Friday, August 29, 2008

More Android apps

There's a list of Android apps floating around that reminds me of those thousands of open source projects on SourceForge: niche apps that appeal to geeks, with unpredictable overlaps and mediocre logos and bad names. But then there's this great list of "10 Android Apps We Will Actually Use." They look outstanding, and should really change the way people see phones.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Frolicking on the Internet

Omar Gallaga, a technology writer for the Austin American-Statesman's and avid Twitter user, prints a letter he received from a reader. The letter excoriates him and others for using social networking sites instead of working, lauds Andrew Keen's The Cult of the Amateur, and suggests that time spent online is time spent away from volunteering and making the country better.

Gallaga welcomes readers to post their comments online, and promises to "print out the responses and mail them back to her." Want to mount a counterargument?

More on Enkin, the Android killer app

AndroidGuys blogged yesterday about Enkin, an Android application that overlays data on Google Maps and Street View. Today, Wikinomics has a demo. They explain it pretty well:
Using the camera and screen, with labels injected, the Android powered mobile device becomes something of a magical lense [sic] that can be used to provide us with digital information about the world, overlayed on the world itself, as intermediated by the device. So far the Enkin guys have set this up to work with locations that have been tagged in their map view, but imagine the possibilities if it could integrate with all of the Geodata that’s tagged in Google Earth. You could also integrate this with social mobility services, and set your name to public, then strangers on the street could take a look at you through their phone and see your name floating above your head like in a videogame. Businesses could also geotag deals that they are running, and you’d set your Enkin-enabled device in “deal hunter live mode” where you’d see overlays on businesses including distance and deal. The list goes on and the possibilities are great.
No kidding, the possibilities are great. Enkin has the promise of fundamentally changing location-based services. The "magic lens" metaphor is a good one, since theoretically you could select one or more frames to overlay on the world. For instance,
  • if you're visiting a city as a tourist, you might select a frame that has pretagged tourist attractions
  • if you're there strictly for a conference, you might instead select (or create) a custom frame with only the conference buildings
  • if you're more interested in a historical tour, you could load that frame
  • if you're working on infrastructure, you could see metadata on streets and bridges, or normally invisible features such as underground cables. Imagine being able to tap into a database of traffic accidents to instantly spot dangerous intersections, or being able to detect cables so that you don't snap them with your backhoe when starting a construction project.
But forget these sideshows, because the real killer app will be when you cross Enkin with a location-based social networking system like, well, Google's Jaiku.
  • if you're at a conference, and you want to see where your acquaintances are, you can scan the building and look for concentrations of friends
  • if you're coworking, you can find out which coffee shop has your collaborators
  • if you're on campus trying to find a colleague's office, you can look through your "magic lens"
Jaiku is currently being migrated to Google App Engine and should relaunch soon. Coincidentally, the first Android phone will probably be presold from T-Mobile in September and delivered in mid-October. I expect the Jaiku relaunch will include the ability to pull data from your Android phone's GPS chip.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Mozilla Ubiquity

Although it's only at release 0.1, Mozilla Labs' Ubiquity promises to be a game-changer, and ensures that Firefox will continue to be my desktop browser for some time. One part Yubnub, one part Quicksilver, Ubiquity allows you to hit a key combination to bring up a command window where you can type abbreviated commands and get instant feedback. Some examples:
  • map university of texas at austin (Brings up a Google map)
  • youtube cookie monster (Displays video stills search-as-you-type, defaults to Youtube search results)
  • g spinuzzi (Brings up Google search results for Spinuzzi)
  • word-count (Counts number of words in your selection in the main Firefox window, or counts words that you type after the command on the command line)
The command list is fairly long, but it's also extensible, like Yubnub.

Use dollar coins

The US Mint is piloting a program in Austin to promote using the $1 coin. Great, I like dollar coins. But maybe they should start a campaign to get rid of pennies too?

Mobile phones monitor elections

Smart Mobs points to a CNN report that African observers are using mobile phones to monitor elections at the district level.

Some Android speculation: What if the killer app already exists?

AndroidGuys has some sharp speculation about how Google could leverage its considerable resources and exclusivity to help its mobile platform leapfrog Apple. Yes, it involves StreetView and more, and it threatens to obliterate the standalone GPS industry.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jaiku upgrades?

Jaiku appears to be upgrading to Google App Engine, doubtless in preparation for the upcoming rollout. They have about seven weeks to be up and rolling by the time the first Android phone gets to consumers.