One of the really interesting aspects of smartphone apps is the innovation and product mutation process. Over the past couple of weeks I have downloaded over 100 apps on my Droid. Some apps were good, many were not. With the exception of Skydroid (99 cents), all were free. For the record the Skydroid golf GPS program worked really well on my recent golf outing. It did not help my game at all, but it was useful ad fun to use.
One of the more interesting and useful apps I have been using is “Where”. “Where” aggregates all the most important mobile search and information functions in one app that utilizes your location for giving you the most relevant results. Weather, News (including micro local news!), Places (a combination of restaurants, hotels, shopping, bars, etc), Movies, Gas prices, Yellow Pages, Traffic, and even a dedicated icon for the nearest Starbucks. For the city-folk, it includes an app to locate a Zip Car. All of these come with easy lists, or are searchable via text or voice input.
Instead of going into several dedicated apps to do the same “on the fly” searches, you can just stay within the “Where” dashboard. They also have a widget for the Droid that will give you the latest alert on any of the categories you have displayed. The widget still needs some work, but is useful.
There is a similar function to “FourSquare” that encourages venue checkin and reviews. Foursquare is the much bigger app for the “hey look where I’ve been crowd”, but “Where” should be watched.
What is interesting about both “Where” and “Foursquare” is how they took a
working model on mobile and morphed it into something more useful. “Where” actually went backwards to go forward. They observed that the single function search and LBS apps were good but cumbersome to use in a real life use case. For example, let’s find a movie to see, a place to eat and maybe a club later on. “Where” handles that use case. “Where” re-invented the information portal.
For the record I have no idea what the top secret Delta Facility or the Mothership are in my list. But I will now have to check them out! If this is my last blog article you will know why!
Foursquare capitalized on the fascination with Twitter and tweeting your status and focused it on venues. This creates a social scene network. Where are your friends? Do you want to see them? What do they think of that bar, restaurant, deli, etc? It is a real time social networking app that is part Twitter, part Zagat’s, and part dating and hook-up. Foursquare also uses location based services to locate you and give you a list of close by venues for you to check-in.
Both of these apps are using geo-located search technology to make their apps very easy to use. They are both ad supported. “Where” has a coupon tray for local coupons on products and services. They both provide functionality that is superior to a vanilla Google search.
So what do they need to move to the big time?
Foursquare is clearly in the Zagat space. Foursquare is what the mobile version of Zagat should be. Foursquare and Zagat announced a partnership in February. The combined application should be interesting! To the leading edge augmented reality crowd – yes I have tried Zagat on NRU – its very cool and the whole subject of augmented reality will be the topic of a future article.
“Where” needs the venue reviews and overall utilization that Foursquare and Zagat enjoy. Additionally “Where” can benefit from the social networking features of Foursquare. What I am not to subtly suggesting is that while Foursquare and “Where” have definitely moved the bar (no pun intended 🙂 ) , they are much more compelling together, and eventually even more compelling in a real partnership with Zagat.