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iPhone Apps I'd Totally Buy

Detail from conext-specific location controls in OmniFocus for iPhoneAs I wrote yesterday, I'm loving the new iPhone apps on the iTunes store. Also, as we mentioned on MacBreak Weekly yesterday, it seems likely that we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what people will do with that SDK.

But it got me thinking about the stuff I want -- the itches I want to scratch. So, iPhone developer friends. Please make these three apps.

Prime This

Elevator pitch: Scan barcode to instantly order an item via Amazon

Out and about and see something you want to buy? Maybe a book, CD, or DVD that you want, but don't want to buy/carry/pack right now? No problem.

Take a photo of the item's barcode, hit one button, and the item is instantly ordered through Amazon 1-Click using your default credit card and shipping preferences. Done.

Yeah, I know; I know. You want price comparisons, and wish lists, and an API for tagging and "mashups." Well, suck it up; you're not who this is for. This is for hardcore, mainlining Amazon Prime power users. That's why it has exactly one button: "Prime This."

Suggested price: Free (developer will make a killing on affiliate money)


Elevator pitch: Location-aware parking reminder

Open the app, hit a button, and your location is noted and added to a map. Optionally add an alarm (for the parking meter or street cleaning), notes and photos ("3rd level; Area G"), and other pertinent data ("Closes at 1am; after hours number is....").

When you're ready to go to your car, the app reminds you where you parked (with a walking map), and off you go.

Suggested price: $5

That Reminds Me

Elevator pitch: Lightweight, location-aware alarm app

Tell TRM the really mushy kinds of things that fall somewhere between a todo and a wish and a curiosity.

  • buy a lottery ticket on my birthday
  • pick up a crazy notebook next time I'm in Chinatown
  • grab a takeout menu next time I'm at Andy's

Using functionality similar to OmniFocus's flexible, location-aware contexts, add new items to your list with optional alarms and start/end dates. Then forget about it.

Next time you're geographically near where you need to be, you get a reminder and a map to get you there.

Suggested price: $5

The Question to You

What’s the iPhone app you crave? What would take great advantage of Location Services, the camera, SDK features, or what have you? What itch do you want to have scratched?

rob_durst's picture

other alternatives to Amazon for Prime This

Seems that the camera limitations have been confirmed.

Only ways that I can think of around the fixed focal length limitations are:

  • (a) higher resolution camera with enough pixels on barcode to demux it at a range where you can see the whole code at once - you would still need to deblur "hand-jitter" in the image though, or run decode through a continuous cycle and terminate when it was finally decoded accurately according to the checksum;
  • (b) image stitch; or
  • (c) OCR the digits instead of demuxing the barcode.

WR2 (c), however, remember that OCR is "interpretive" and not demux, so it can make classification errors. I suspect that OCR would also be exacerbated by variable lighting, angle, scaling and other variations, both static and time varying.

Guess is that best approach would be to iterate OCR capture of the digits and terminate on check sum, that is assuming that the check sum digit was not munged. You might also be able to do something with OCR "confidence" of digit match to weight your "decode".

Interesting problem.....

BTW, unless they are precluding by some IP position (or there is another one out there) there are alternatives to an Amazon back end, such as eBay (m.ebay.com), and google / froogle (www.google.com/products)




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