This post is half recap, half collection of a couple mobile apps that found out about last night and how I saw things take off. I came across a post from Bob Lefsetz who typically writes about the music industry though occasionally brings something else into the mix. He was talking about a ski resort that was thinking more into the mobile future than anyone in the music industry. There was a lot of good points plus the attached video of the ski resort implementing check in’s was pretty smart. This was the quote I tweeted to link to his post:
What kind of crazy fucked up world do we live in where a resort company utilizes this concept before a music company?
A couple minutes later I looked at my stats from bit.ly to see how many people had clicked on it. At first I thought the number was an error but it turns out that Scobleizer rt’d it. It was fascinating to watch how the rt’s flew after that. Just like the post Visualizing How a Link Spreads Through the Twitterverse I was watching this happen in real time. Usually if someone passes along something I’ve mentioned things pop a tiny bit, this was a different magnitude.
The bigger deal in all this to me is the different type of services that offer check in’s. Some are trying to be all things to all businesses, while other’s are just for one particular market—in my example a a ski resort. I’m not sure who was behind the design of Epic Mix though I have a couple guesses. The video is quite compelling and covers a lot of angles that haven’t been completely thought out until now. A small but important feature is that they’ve also tried to solve the feature of kids checking in. The tech behind the service is already getting a lot of attention.
One other mobile check in service to take a look at to compare is Festival Crowd. I haven’t played with the service at all, it looks like it does speak to some of the features that Lefsetz was wanting. All these check in’s plus push to a third party is going to be the minimum very soon in terms of how busiesses and events become a better experience. The days of just having a listing of events as the site are over.
Over the weekend I saw The Secret in Their Eyes (highly recommend it) at Angelika. Typically like most people that don’t want to be dissapointed by standing in line I bought my ticket ahead of time. But unlike other times that I’ve bought my ticket online, I had the option of having the ticket sent to me via mobile. Having never used the option before I figured why not try it, especially with articles from NYT Web Coupons Know Lots About You, and They Tell and Apply thinking about stuff like this Apple Introduces us to a New iTunes “Concert Ticket +” System popping up these days.
Having never used a QR code as a ticket I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. A friend of mine had to buy a ticket so I stood with her and asked the guy behind the glass. At first he was slightly confused as to what was on my iPhone screen. After a couple seconds of thinking he basically said just go inside and they’ll scan it. As I walked to the entrance I was kind of wondering if this was actually going to work. Everyone in front of me was using paper and I just had my iPhone. Once I got to the ticket person I mentioned that I had the ticket on screen. She was cool with that and pulled out a scanner and printed off a piece of paper so I could get back in if I exited.
It was a pretty seamless process and I would use the mobile QR code again if I had the option. But as a first time experience I wasn’t really sure what to expect. There’s a couple small things that any business that want’s to start going paperless should consider. The designer in me thinks that a simple awareness sign might do the trick. It could explain the procedure of what steps are involved while also advertise to those unaware that such an option is available. Those steps could also be displayed in the email confirmation mentioning that a mobile ticket is available. That would have helped alleviated my first time confusion. I’d also clean up the typography with the actual QR code, I barely scanned the info that could have been made readable with a couple line breaks and bold text to highlight things.
Actually I do know why I see the wifi signal from Starbucks and it’s kind of irratating. A couple months back I signed into using wifi because it was free for me at Starbucks. I didn’t think much of it—the login was simple though slightly time consuming in that I had to use my phone number as a username etc. Nothing major for someone sitting down enjoying coffee. The issue comes now whenever I walk by a Starbucks it knocks my 3G network off expecting me to login again. So on a daily basis it seems like I’m turning off my wifi button as I’m walking outside which is getting annoying, especially since I already have the Ask to Join Networks button off. I know why that button isn’t working—because I’ve already signed into that network once at Starbucks, but it doesn’t realize I don’t want to be using it as I walk outside. Has anyone else come across this issue and found it kind of bothersome?
Very cool feature on Yelp that I came across from @arainert, if you have an iPhone 3GS you can now see augmented reality of reviews. Once you’ve downloaded the newest version of Yelp, open it up and shake it three times. A feature called Monocle will then make itself available.
I tried it on Crosby St in SoHo, while not perfect it was pretty awesome. Sure people were staring at me wondering what the hell I was doing with my iPhone, but I didn’t really care. Seeing stuff pop up that I’d never seen before was quite the trip. This is the start of some pretty cool stuff.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve discovered three new iPhone apps that changed how I use my iPhone. I’m not talking about navigation per say like dragging or enlarging, but how traditional media files are consumed and interacted with. Those media types being video and sound files, along with simple text. While I haven’t had a ton of time to use the TED, Discovery Channel or NPR iPhone apps, they all made me go hmmm in a good way.
Each app packs a lot of info, but because of the limited screen real estate it’s actually quite easy to navigate and explore. When was the last time you went to a normal web site and had a great exploring experience? My favourite feature from TED iPhone app is that they’ve split the sound and video. Just because something is filmed doesn’t mean that the talk can’t be valuable as just a sound file. Plus the file size is a lot smaller. As for the Discovery Channel app, I’ve never found myself in front of the TV checking out that channel as a destination. However I was able to quickly explore a lot of what the channel had to offer and watch some cool weather clips. The NPR app is something that all news outlets should study very closely. They’ve made the online experience of both reading and listening to news very easy and fast. They’ve managed to take some complicated issues like finding stations or topics manageable.
By being mobile I wasn’t constrained to any one place in my apartment. It also negated the need for a second plasma. I could watch what I wanted without having to worry about anyone else. The on demand aspect was also a tv killer. While DVR’s allows a person to watch when they want, the apps just made things so much easier. While I keep talking about ease of use, how the signal came to my iPhone was not. I couldn’t trust that ATT’s 3G network would pull the files I wanted to consume nor was my wifi great either. If there’s anything holding back an iPhone apps experience—it’s the media transfer.
After reading about how the iPhone to Become #1 Camera on Flickr, it reinforced a couple things for me. While an argument could be that people are just getting lazier and hence the rise in iPhone photos, for me it’s the opposite. Interactions are becoming smarter and easier for people to use. With a press of the button the ease of spreading an image via email, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook (sometime all at the same time) is actually a pretty technical thing that people take for granted.
But with the ease mobility it also got me to thinking about non technical things like food. Walking around New York it’s pretty easy to get all the food a person would need without ever stepping into a building. Of course the question of how healthy that is should be asked. I’m just not going to pose that question for this post. What I did want to mention was how great it was earlier this week to sit on the corner of Broome and Broadway to get a simple burrito. While waiting I could help but people watch, enjoy the sun, check up on stuff with my iPhone and realize that if I wanted dessert all I had to do was cross the street to get an ice cream cone. It was the ultimate it in mobile convenience. It was the starck contrast of having to visit the typical templated chain outlet. The agility of the food cart and truck can come to the people and make their lives a bit better wasn’t lost on me.
It’s an interesting business proposition these days considering how many business are held back due to expensive leases. Being held to one place, the store must rely on people coming back. With a food cart if no one is there, in theory they can move around to find people. While I don’t know how much it costs for a license (it can’t be cheap), having the ability to move to the best people spots has to be more valuable than a long term lock on one location. Can it be soon before non traditional outlets try the vendor approach?
and yes those photos above were taken with my iPhone—pretty good quality eh?