Category mobile/iPhone

Driving Directions HOV

So I took a roadtrip with my daughter from SF to Disneyland. We went down the coast on US101. When I hit a break in the Oxnard area I plugged into Google Maps on my iPhone the destination and looked for its sage advice on the quickest route given traffic, etc. It told me my best bet was to take the 101 to the 5 down to Disneyland. And perhaps if I was driving on my own, that’s the route I would have taken. But I suspected that since I qualified as a carpool, there would be a quicker route.

Alas, as far as I could see, Google Maps didn’t offer an option for selecting that I was a carpool (or qualifying low emissions vehicle.) Perhaps I am missing something, or need a different app. But not having that feature (or that information) led Google Maps to giving me directions that would have been 30 minutes longer (on a 1hr 50 minute trip.)

I in fact took the 405 (who would choose to do that?) and because I knew they had done a lot of work to have carpool lanes on it, that helped make a lot of difference. Turns out, if you then take the 105 to the 110 to 91 to 5, the only stretch without a carpool lane is 110 (it’s a paid lane – free for HOV, but only with a SoCal FastTrack.)

So, anyone want to add this to their map/direction app?

A Camera Reflection

As I think about the progression of things towards “free”, I keep running into instances where “if only they added another” becomes ever more likely/practical.

I was trying to take a good photo of my baby girl as she sat in my lap today. I was using my iPhone and everyone knows how hard that can be to take a good shot with. An earlier piece pointed out how eventually, which the ever cheaper price of displays, that they’d have displays on both sides of the phone and in this instance, I would have been able to see what I had in the viewfinder. But I couldn’t.

The photo didn’t come out all that great, but as I emailed it to my wife back at home, I thought for a moment that not only did the photo show little of my daughter and I, but it didn’t show much of what was around us. So my wife had no way of knowing where we were.

So I almost took a picture of what we had been looking towards at the time of the photo, which happened to be Treasure Island here on San Francisco Bay. But when I stopped myself from doing that, I realized that with the decreasing price of camera lenses, why doesn’t the phone just do it by itself?

The new iPhones have cameras on both sides, so that should be trivial, right? Just a software thing. But what about other cameras? SLRs? Doesn’t have to be the same high-end lense/photo, but why not just add a bunch of smartphone cameras to all sides of the camera? That way you could get context for your photos. The camera could somehow store them in a way that software on my computer could connect the two. Just as they have GPS coordinates embedded in photos, why not photos of what was on either side or behind me?

Never know what you’ll see as things move closer to free.

iApplause Meter

We’ve all seen applause meters on TV shows (an elsewhere) to measure response to something. This is following the imminently foolproof logic that applause level = popularity. Thus, in a world of distributed audiences.. How do we measure popularity? How about an app that uses the built-in accelerometer to measure applause.

You have an iPhone, dowload the app, put the phone in your hands, then clap. That’s simple. If you’re American Idol, create your event in the app, allow your audience sitting at home download the app, sign-in to the event, then wait for the clap. Measure claps from all over the world. Really know when something is popular.

Possible app names:

Next Step iPhone

I’ve been wondering for a while what the next next thing should be for the iPhone. If you think about where drops in hardware costs are going, you an start to see when certain capabilities start to virtually be free. That’s how we ended up with two cameras on each iPhone 4, as they are basically free.

So what’s next? How about drops in the cost of the touchscreens themselves? The nintendo DS has had more than one touchscreen.. They keep being able to make bigger/cheape screens.. So why not two? If you need to use two apps (or same app) at the same time, just turn to the back of the phone and power up the 2nd screen. Then just switch between them. Open that safari link to the other screen with the hours for your favorite restaurant and then pop up the google map directions on the other.

It’ll happen…

iPhone, therefore iAm: Self-Aware Devices

I’m sitting there this morning realizing how ubiquitous my cell phone has become, and I realized that for all of the smarts it contains, it’s really not using much of it unless I ask it to. Why doesn’t it do more? Why isn’t it studying me and learning what I want it to do?

For example, it must know by now that at 1 o’clock each weekday afternoon, I either turn it to silent or check to make sure it is so. This is because I have class and a ringing device costs you $5. Couldn’t it watch my pattern for a week or two and then project that I will do today what I’ve done every Tuesday beforehand?

Or how about the feature Apple offers where you can go through .me and find your phone if it is lost. Why do YOU have to go do that? Doesn’t your phone have a pretty good idea when it’s lost? Let’s say I have the phone in my pocket every day I go out the door. Every day. Since forever. Might the fact that tomorrow, the phone is still sitting where it was left, unmoved for 36 hours straight give it the sense to know something is up? Might it not “call” my designated contact, or email someone to say “hey, where are you? Do you know where I am?”

How about security? We put so much into these phones, with the banking apps, passwords, etc. Aren’t we worried if someone gets there hands on our phone? Sure, but what can we do about it? Well, the phone should be pretty good about identifying its owner, no? We use it every day, and though we might not see it, we have some very subtle patterns of usage and behavior that can’t be duplicated that easily. Can’t the phone identify and track this, such that when someone else tries to use the phone, using it in an entirely different way, that it thinks that something might be amiss and emails for confirmation: “Hey Matte, am I still in your pocket? Should I really be letting you into your online bank account or let you post to WordPress?”

It might be weird to wake up one day to HAL in our pockets, but I think a device we encourage to be self-aware will do us less harm than a really smart device we continually expect to play dumb.