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Innovative iPhone and Android apps– 2011 Winter edition

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After my first post this year, there have been many more interesting apps that caught my attention.It is pretty good to see a lot of innovation in the mobile industry by people outside of this domain. So here is my next list for the year. We could say it’s the ‘Winter edition’ of 2011!

The Invisible Universe:   Joshua Peek  is a fellow at the Columbia University studying about galaxies. As an astronomer he sees a lot of things in the space through his telescopes that we couldn’t see.  So he has come up with AR app called Invisible Space. The app is loaded with a database of full sky images of the galaxy.

When someone holds the phone up in the sky,this app would load the image of the galaxy at that orientation.. I liked this app for bringing in lot of informative stuff using simple techniques.

Here is a good intro video: 



This app is hosted here on the Android Market: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.lbi.iu .

PitPatt : The next app is pretty cool and pretty scary too. This is what happens when Minority Report meets Android.  Researchers at CMU have come up with an advanced Pattern recognition algorithm that allows anyone to know your real identity in under 60 seconds , by just taking a your picture with your smartphone.

Pitpatt has been acquired by Google and soon we could see this tech on Android.The app is not publically available yet.There is more detail on this app here.

Vocre :  I mentioned about translations apps in my  previous review too. This time there is one more vocre-logotranslator app that has won lot of accolades. Vocre from myLanguage can translate what you speak into nearly six different languages (including Mandarin).  Usage is pretty simple .You speak in your language and tilt the phone to translate. There is a nice demo at Vocre’s home page explaining the idea.

Appmates from Disney : My last innovative app is also the best on this list . This app is soo cool that I would buy and iPad just to try this app.  Disney’s new app allows you to drive real cars on virtual space and the virtual terrain reacts to the cars!! 

All you need is an iPad with the free Disney app and get one of those special  Lightning Mcqueen toys. Here is an elaborate demo.Have a look and you’ll be quite impressed.



The tech around this is a hot topic on Google + and I was able to glean some info on that. The inventor has couple patents on it.Now that is ONE cool idea to be patented !  Here is more info on this concept .

That’s it for now. Like many I would be eagerly following the ‘Lets Talk iPhone’ event today (Oct 4,2011). I am particularly interested to see what they are going to announce about Virtual Personal Assistant using the technology they acquired from Siri.


Written by sujai

October 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Innovative iPhone (and Android) apps: –2011 edition

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    Of all my blog posts, my brief review on  iPhone and Android apps have been the most popular. So here is a 2011 edition covering some of the newer ones!

When the iPhone was  launched ,the ‘proximity sensor’ and the ‘accelerometer’ were the hot things and most apps were using these sensors. Fast forward to 2011 and the new theme is AR and NFC. Of this NFC apps are really hot and may well be the next disruption after AR.


AR.Pursuit:  First demoed at the CES 2010, the AR drone was drawing lot of interest event at the recent  CES 2011. Parrots’ quadricopter supports an inbuilt wifi system and video  streaming.

 logo_arpursuit The AR.Pursuit integrates all these into a nice iPhone app to give you a very impressive game. The demo video says it all.


SkyGaze : While AR.Pursuit is mainly recreational here is another AR app that I think would be appreciated by all amateur sky gazers. Using Sky Gaze is very simple.

sceen_shotJust point your  iPhone to the sky and the app shows you exactly what you are looking at . Full marks for this very simple utility app that serves a great need for anyone interested in sky gazing.


Venmo:  After looking at some recreational apps, here are some apps that may one day become big utility apps of your mobile. Venmo is a service that links your phone to a credit card and make or receive payments . Predictably its still not for huge transactions and there is also a trust factor ..so its only between ‘friends’ .

  The Venmo service/app, solves a very subtle problem of keeping balances between friends. Imagine you had dinner with your friends and you had to split the bill among them. Venmo allows you to charge your friends the split amount either online or via a text message.


Starbucks Card mobile:  Launched as a pilot program sometime back the card mobile app is a imageshit and now it is available throughout the United states. The payment is not via WiFi or Bluetooth (considering security)  but a unique ‘bar code’ that is scanned by the system.

side note: The barcode is unique but you could take a snap and reuse it as explained here .


 nfc_logo NFC apps are yet to catch-up .Actually we are all waiting for the iPhone5 to go big time with NFC payments. Google’s Android 2.3 (GingerBread) already supports NFC. Some of the rumored apps for the iPhone5 are very interesting .

Taglet is one of the first NFC apps available for Android. The use case is similar to exchanging phone information over BT but may be much more easier and could be able to read any kind of information.


To me the NFC technology also seems a security threat.  The protocol by itself doesn’t ensure secure communication and its possible  to have passive NFC listeners eavesdropping your data once it enters the field of communication.

So that’s my little list of cool iPhone and Android apps. The Angry Birds is not part of this review.Don’t get angry for that !


Google Translate – This list missed a very innovative app. Google Translate app for Android has been  has been around for  quite sometime . And lot of enhancements have been made to it recently. But the latest (experimental) Conversation mode is something from the sci-fi era.

It brings to reality the Universal translator  of sci-fi movies. You could speak in your native language,the phone translates and plays back in another language. Real time speech to speech that is.

Pretty cool technology and would really come handy if you are a tourist and want to
buy something from a dealer who does not know English. Here is a nice demo of this feature by Eric Schmidt.

Written by sujai

February 14, 2011 at 8:59 am

Some Innovative iPhone (and Android) apps:

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Ever since downloadable apps were popularized by the iPhone, this space has grown pretty much.
Many innovative applications have come up. These applications have made good use of sensors inbuilt with the  device. They are also well integrated with the web.  Such apps were not done prior to the iPhone and their ilk.  This is a post on few apps that I liked for their innovative use of available information on smart phones .

1. OCarina:
The best app in this list would be Smule’s OCarina . This application simulates the Ocarina, an ancient flute like instrument on the iPhone .

ocarina-fingerholes-phone The application converts the iPhone into a true musical instrument. Its quite  amazing to see how gestures, tilt, touch and breath are fed into the device to create some good music. Some videos here .

Its not surprising that the application made it to the list of entries contending for the  ‘Best Mobile App’ category at the Crunchies 2008 event .

2. Google Mobile App
The next application is Google’s mobile application for the iPhone. Especially the voice search.
The application makes use of an undocumented API that allowed access to the proximity sensor of the iPhone . With this information,the application would automatically activate voice search when appropriate. Users have found this app quite useful and the voice search ‘really works’ .This app has got good reviews from many.  Here is a video that shows this app in action.

3. Textecution:
This is an Android application that automatically disables texting while you are driving.
The application reads the GPS information of the phone to find out if the phone is moving faster than 10mph.
If the phone is moving faster than 10mph all texting is disabled on the phone! A simple idea that brings in
a lot of safety. For more,have a look at their site here .

4. Pandora :
Pandora was one of the first applications to come to the iPhone. This application allows users to stream music from Pandora Radio directly to their iPhone . The service plays new songs based on earlier songs played by the user. This application is quite popular and there has been  over 2 million downloads of this application since its launch on July 2008.

5. Shazm :
Talking of Pandora,here is yet another music application that is equally innovative. Shazm is a music discovery service . Bring your iPhone close to any tune that is played now, and Shazm discovers the tune and  shows the name of the song!

Its quit interesting to hear of these applications .I am curious to see how all these apps work internally.Hope someone is magnanimous to open up the source code of these apps!

Written by sujai

January 16, 2009 at 8:04 pm

iPhone and the advent of the HLOS

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I was listening to a talk last week on what is happening in the mobile phone business. It was by a person closely working with higher officials of various players in this space.  Here are some excerpts from that ‘talk’.

Apple’s iPhone has truly changed the game in this industry. Though many were talking about a ‘Mobile internet’ experience on phones, no one gave that business a compelling device,and a nice browser to use. (I think our ideas were seriously crippled due to over use of windows internet explorer). With the advent of iPhone, this area has finally caught attention.

Impact on modems:
A very important component in the mobile phone is its ‘baseband’ or the ‘modem’.This component is
responsible for managing the various connectivity options in mobiles. Mobiles were advertised
for their connectivity (like 3G /GSM/GPRS etc). But the future modems would be supporting a plethora of connectivity options like GPRS/3G/HSPA/WiMax etc  and most of this would be integrated into a
single silicon. In other words connectivity cannot remain a USP for a phone. And competitors could easily bring in phones with all that you have in 6 months.

Usability ,the real USP (at least for now):
Though many were talking about Usability and user experience..it has now become THE most deciding factor. This was the example that was cited to explain how  usability matters:   Few years ago Motorola launched its RAZR a groundbreaking design and made lot of money. But other operators and OEM’s were able to quickly come up with similar hardware and better designs. So the niche was gone and RAZR was no longer unique.

It has been almost a year now and no one has been successful in getting an iPhone killer.You may have touch,you may have connectivity but there is something unique with the device that’s not easy to replicate/reproduce. There is TMobile G1 (based on Android) .But  apparently ,its finesse is not even close to version 1.0 of the iPhone software.

So,what does this mean to mobile phone business:  The market is no longer about technology. Its more of ease of use and ‘feel good’.Technically, it also means that traditional OS’s, traditional frameworks with minimal attention to Usability may go away. This market will be populated with more and more of what is called as ‘High Level OS’ or HLOS. High Level OS’s are complex operating systems ,with support for most if not all of the functionality that a desktop OS would support.

Written by sujai

October 22, 2008 at 11:52 am

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