Friday, April 1, 2011

iPhone Apps: Localmind & Color

Usually I review physical goods: Beauty products, food, footwear, that sort of stuff. But today I’m going to do something a little different and review an iPhone app. Actually, I’m going to be reviewing two iPhone apps since one led to the other.

Last week I downloaded an app called Color. If you’ve big into social media/networks/iPhone stuff, you’ve probably heard about this app, which allows you to share photos with other users who are physically located near you. The big thing about this app is that you’re not sharing your photos with  authorized friends but with strangers.

Initially, Color didn’t interest me since I don’t take a lot of photos with my phone but then I read this Gawker article on how it allows you to uh, see the fun your neighbours are having. Since I’m sort of a snoopy person, I was sold.

Unfortunately, either no one else around me uses this app or I don’t know how to use it because I’m not seeing anyone else’s photos (or does it somehow know that I'm just taking pictures of my pets, and not cool party photos like I'm supposed to?).

On the plus side, it did result in the app store Genius program recommending something called Localmind, a location-based app that people around me seem to actually use.

What I like about Localmind is that it’s using an idea I’ve had for ages and that is: Wouldn’t it be nice if I, sitting at home, could contact someone at the club/bar/restaurant/wherever I wanted to go to and ask how long the line is/what I should order/what I should wear.

Localmind basically expands on this idea and works like this: You log in using your Foursquare/Gowalla/Facebook/Twitter account and then, through the magic of GPS, appear on a Google map of your area (you’re simply identified as a Localmind and none of your personal info is displayed). You can then submit questions to other Localmind users about what's going on at their location while they can submit questions to you.

I received my first question, about where’s a good nearby bar, within minutes of logging in. I’ll admit that the timing was a bit suspicious. Localmind does have a karma program and I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this first question was some kind of “test” to see what kind of Localmind I’d be, but I answered it anyways.

I ended up earning myself 20 karma points. I’m not sure what those karma points do but, as the introductory email I received said, ”We are just getting ramped up, so please bear with us,” so I imagine that more details on the karma point system are coming.

And hopefully a few other tweaks will be made because I can see how, with a few changes, this could be a great app.

For example, you can see a list of questions that people around you have asked, as well as the answers to those questions, but you can’t submit your own answer. And while there are spots to list questions sent to you, as well as questions you’ve answered, they disappear after a certain period of time. It would be nice if that info could be archived somehow, so that you could use it for future reference (or to re-answer similar questions).

Also, it would be nice if more people used this app but I think that will come in time. Right now there are quite a few people in downtown Toronto using it and I’m curious to see how the Localmind map looks come a Friday or Saturday night.  But questions are being anwered. For example, my question, posed to the Localmind at the Eaton Centre, was answered in under 15 minutes.

Both Localmind and Color are free apps so here’s to hoping that helps to boost their popularity.

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