Smartphone Wars

Wanting to buy a touch-screen smartphone, I asked the good people on Twitter for their help in choosing between an iPhone 4 and a Galaxy S 2 and was overwhelmed by the number of responses in favor for Android! There is no denying the kind of support / backing Android has managed to get over such a short period of time. Surely they must be doing something right. Was discussing this with boss-man and I got a smile as an answer. He had of course, yet again predicted this a while back.

So what is it that Android is doing so right, or Apple doing so wrong? The 2 very strong viewpoints I got were –
1. Android is much more configurable. It gives the power in the hands of the user. AND it’s cheaper! “Why throw away your money on iPhone when you can get something just as good much cheaper.”
2. While there is no denying the User Experience of the iPhone devices, a lot of people seem to find the Apple way of working rather restrictive. Even the store manager at a store in Saket said (and I paraphrase) – “iPhone does not give you the flexibility of sharing data. No bluetooth. You can only transfer data to your device using iTunes. And you can sync your device with only one pc at a time or risk losing all your data.”

The restrictiveness of the Apple-way also comes to the fore when we see their strong control over the app store and their continued resistance towards Flash (Adobe). App publishers like Playboy and Financial Times are now coming up with innovative ways of bypassing Apple’s restrictiveness – which may also be quite beneficial for the end users actually. I will try and cover that in another post though.

Lifehacker has also compared the 2 OS from the perspective of a ‘Power User’ in this post.

Apple vs Android (source: Lifehacker)

While the Apple vs Android debate may continue, Ideafarms is backing Android for now. We also welcome your opinion on the topic. Do let us know which phone / OS you prefer and why. You can also join the discussion here –> https://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=179127528783537&topic=568

[As for me, I might still end up getting an iPhone but that’s because it’s an old itch I have to scratch. Although I must admit I almost changed my mind 5 times while writing this post :D]

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Use of Augmented Reality for marketing – still a long way to go for India

At Select City Walk (A mall in Delhi) in the main atrium where the regulars would know that they tend to have cars on display, yesterday the car that was displayed was the Ford Fiesta. But there was something different this time and what caught my attention were these big round red booths with an iPad attached to each. Excited to get a first-hand taste of Augmented Reality, all thoughts of meeting my waiting friends escaped my mind and I decided to give this a shot, only to come out extremely disappointed.

Ford Fiesta iPad Booth at Select City Walk – No magic happening here!

So the red booths were spread in a circle around the car displayed in the centre and the iPad in each was pointing towards the car. The so-called iPad app in the car was nothing more than a website adapted for the iPad’s interactions [iPad 1.0 if I may] which was in no way whatsoever utilising the vehicle kept right in front of it. The maximum extent of interactivity available in the app was that you could rotate the car 360 degrees. (I wonder which genius thought that one up since the car was right there in front of you to walk around.) The feature listing was again in a very website format and I was very disappointed because what I had imagined was that you could walk around the car with an iPad in your hand and some “magic” would happen. I asked the guy who was helping you interact with the app there (can you imagine an iPad app that someone has to help you use?!) if the iPad had an Augmented Reality app. He goes, “Ma’am I’ve never heard the term!”

Wondering which company had developed this app, I headed to Google and what I found instead was this video link to another Ford Fiesta iPad app.

Now even this app (not AR) by the same company, is far more interesting and better executed than what I saw yesterday.

And of course we have all seen the oh-so-many marvelous examples of how Augmented Reality is actually used to boost the experience at a car booth.

A few thoughts that come to mind with which I will sum up –

1. Marketers need to understand the real potential of the devices and the technology they are using to be able to come up with truly valuable ideas. Anything else is just a gimmick and more often than not would leave the user feeling irritated thus negating the entire experience that you so painstakingly created for them.

2. India still has a lot of catching up to do as far as tech innovation is concerned – especially in the advertising and marketing space. Infact I wonder if we will ever get there. I don’t know whether the blame lies on the “idea guys” who are pretty much still clueless or the marketing folk who remain tight-fisted and are not willing to part with the moolah. My guess is that it’s a bit of both.

Google Streetview Mashups

Seeing some nice pictures people have taken through Google Street View from around the world, roused our curiosity  and we decided to read up more about it. The first stop was the Street View site by Google. On the site, Google claims that Google Maps with Street View lets you explore places around the world through a 360-degree street-level imagery. You can check out restaurants, visit neighborhoods, or plan your next trip.

They even have a technology page on the site where they have described in detail the process, techniques and equipment they have used to gather all the street view data and have stitched it together for viewing. Quite impressive. You can read more about it here.

So of course the next question that came to mind was (we have seen quite a number of examples of very useful mashups that were created using Google Maps over the number of years), whether the same has been done with Google Street View. Below are a few examples we liked.

1. Stweet – Google Street View convenes Twitter

Stweet as the name suggests is a mash up of Google street view with twitter. It shows the exact location from where the tweet originated against a panoramic view of the location using Google street view.

Once a user selects a destination, Stweet shows the tweets from the selected location and as the user moves around in Street-view, it shows more tweets from those locations.

Stweet refreshes automatically when a new tweet is found in the destination that the user is viewing. Currently only available for some cities of US and Europe.

Created by: We Love The Net

Link: http://www.we-love-the.net/Stweet/

2. Zombie attack on Google street view –

Streetview Zombie Apocalypse developed by Wonder-Tonic

is a game using Google Street View. The user can choose his location and can fight the zombies and“œmoving pins” against the street view of that location.

You can play the game here: http://wonder-tonic.com/zombie/

3. World Cup Soccer 2010 Venues – Step up on Puyol’s playground

If you’re a sports fan, you probably came across this mashup developed for the Soccer World Cup – 2010. You can take an inside look at the various World Cup venues, pan around and check out the videos and images from that location and read up more about the location. It was early days yet for Google Street View but this was quite a nifty little tool developed for those who are fans of Soccer and Technology both.

Link: http://www.mibazaar.com/worldcupsoccer/venues.html

4. Globe Genie –

And now you can roam the streets of London and take your own short vacation while sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of your office. Globe Genie is mashup using Google’s street view technology with which you can teleport yourself to your favorite destination. You can view street level details about almost any place and it feels like actually you’re there.

Just select the continent and hit teleport, experience a whole new level of possibilities.

Link: http://web.mit.edu/~jmcmicha/www/globegenie/

5. Street Traveler –

A mash-up to virtually travel around the streets of some of your favorite cities around the globe. Roam around the streets of Sydney, Prague, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Barcelona, Madrid and London using Google Street View. It lets you read about your favorite destinations, visit your favorite landmarks, and tour around in the panoramic view.

Link: http://streettraveler.blogspot.com/2009/08/list-of-places-in-rome.html

(If you’re in the mood for a few laughs, you can also check out these funny sights captured while taking some of the street views http://www.streetviewfunny.com/streetviewfunny/index.php)

However, looking at these examples and more, it’s pretty clear that it is early days yet for Google Street view and it hasn’t yet been tapped for it’s full potential. We are not sure whether it is because Street View by itself imposes some technical constraints (it could be that it’s just not as handy as Google Maps yet) or whether it hasn’t been explored as an option by people yet. We are definitely interested in exploring this further and discussing ideas on how Google Street View can be used to create more valuable tools. If you have some ideas and feel that you would like to discuss them with us, do feel free to reach out or share.

(Incidentally, Google has already started capturing Street View images for India and Bangalore is their pilot.)

source : http://ibnlive.in.com/news/google-launches-its-streetview-project-in-india/156060-3.html

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Ideafarms going mobile

Having seen some cool examples of Mobile applications and especially those using Location Based Services and Augmented Reality, we had been tossing around quite a few ideas of our own. We didn’t want to lose the enthusiasm or some of those precious ideas. So we decided to finally do something about it. One fine day, four of us locked ourselves in the conference room and brainstormed the day away. The result was a bunch of ideas which range from simple utility apps, to location-based apps (some of which apply specifically to the India context) and some fun game ideas [afterall, all work and no play… 😉 ].

Going Mobile

As far as the Location-Based apps go, we are excited about creating valuable services based around the current context of the user. We have worked on such concepts in combination with social-media platforms for social innovation in the past. What is exciting about the mobile platform is that such information would be accessible to the user on the go.

To test the waters, we have decided to kick-off with a pilot project which will be a location-based app on the Android platform (later to be extended to other platforms). Similar apps may already exist — we can further add value using our Rapid Prototyping and UI Design capabilities to design a seamless experience for the user.

If any of this sounds exciting, feel free to reach out. Be it to join our team, or to contribute more ideas, or to volunteer to be a guinea pig (read test user) or simply collaborate with us. We are always looking for exciting ideas and excited people. :)

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