I Want An APP That ...

Let's face it: the App Store is great idea. Fact is, mobile device is very personal, and should be heavily customized or tailored for individuals specific computing need, for day-to-day life.  The device must have the capability to allow a user to choose whatever tools that can make her work/life easier and happier. There are already over 225,000 apps in Apple App Store, and 60,000+ in Android Market. Many people are becoming app-hungry as you can always run into some apps that you think useful or just funny. It is an app world, indeed.

One may argue that a web browser based computing model would suffice--user just goes to various web sites from their device and do the stuff there. This argument fails to acknowledge a fundamental software design rationale for mobile devices: mobile devices usually have a small form-factor (which means the software UI must be well optimized to be simple and less typing), and are equipped with peripherals that mobile software can leverage to create unique mobile experience. In sheer contrast to desktop computing where more applications are migrating to become browser based, mobile software are increasingly standalone apps that offer very finger friendly interactions.

So what apps do you want to put onto your iPhone/iPod, Android, Windows Phone 7? Some of my most frequently used apps on my iPod Touch are:

  • Email, outlook, gmail, etc;
  • Stanza ebook reader, free download of many books, magazines from difference sources;
  • Weather;
  • eBuddy messager;
  • Engadget app;
  • cnBeta app, Chinese digg;
  • Yelp, location aware local search and review;
  • Sina microblogging (Sina weibo), Chinese twitter;
  • Seattle Times app;
  • NY Times app;
  • CCTV mobile tv app;
  • Skype;
  • LinkedIn app;
  • Free RSS app;
  • mitbss.com app, wasting time on meaningless forum gossips;

If you are an app developer, and want to find a good app idea, I suggest you read "App We Wish We Had" by New York Times. There are some amazingly cool idea in this story, such as:

  • One popular idea: a To Do-list program that, thanks to the phone’s GPS, would remind you of things to do when you’re in the right place to do them — to “pick up a saw when you’re near the hardware store...But the Twitterites were quick to identify programs that already do that: Reqall, Omnifocus, Remember the Milk, Geostrings, Pocket Informant, Astrid, Task Aware and so on.
  • Shazam for movies and TV, art work, plants, Chinese/Italian restaurant menu, person, and pretty much everything, : Shazam is the app that identifies a pop song on the radio just by listening to it. Now think about the device is a genius standing by: for whatever you are interested in getting more information, the genius can just whisper by your ear or show you in the air. This is so called "augmented reality", such as the wikitube world browser .  
  • Location aware parking app that can tell the parking rules for the spot;
  • Six-degree of separation app that can tell you how you may be tied to someone you just met;
  • Rejuvenator: Aim iPhone camera at your face, snap a pic — it digitally subtracts 5, 10, 15, 20 years from your image.” You don't want to have such an app on your PC; but, this is mobile, and you want to play with it for fun!
  • An app that takes a picture of the shopping/restaurant receipts and record it.

Having read the story, I was thinking what apps I need. Here are some ideas:

  • Hot Tweets: the app should give a daily summary of hot tweets (of specific categories such as mobile phones, celebrities, etc) on Twitter and Google Buzz so one will never miss anything big;
  • Price Drop Notifier: the app should gather information from various bargain deal sites, grocery store sites, online shopping sites,  and let user set some triggers when the price of certain stuff dropped into your expected range. And when you are close to a store, the app reminds you to check out the price-dropped items that you have been watching for;
  • Want More Apps app: An app that tells me some new apps that I may be interested in, by using recommendations from people of similar interest; This is very useful for non-English users-it is difficult to find popular Chinese apps in Apple App Store;
  • Eat What app: based on your diet so far this week, the app suggests you eat more veggie and fruits, or just "no worries; go enjoy the fries";

You get the idea. More to come...