I just read an interesting article on Vodafone Receiver (a site providing some good insights into mobile if you haven’t seen it before)
This article was written by Jonathan Follett and is titled: The world as the interface – location data and the mobile web
(Love the title)
The article has some good points and links to many current mobile location based sites such as Yelp etc.
It also discusses how the mobile web joins together the virtual and the real worlds, and raises some issues for mobile user experience design. He states:
“Location-based data has the ability to not only enhance the communication, productivity, and entertainment applications for which we regularly use mobile devices, but also to create a new hybrid experience at the intersection of real and virtual worlds. This mobile geospatial web will allow the information and imagination that runs freely in cyberspace, to become increasingly available and integrated in our physical space – and with that comes both possibilities and problems. “
Reading this article reminded me of a Japanese app someone showed me a video of a few months back. The app is called Mapion and it layers digital information on top of the real world, by showing digital content on top of the view of the real world as seen through a mobiles camera lens. Basically, you point the camera at a place and you see digital information associated with that location layered on top of it. This app was launched in 2006 and it may have got big in Japan but haven’t heard of it’s growth. (also their web site is in Japanese so……no idea….)
A (very low budget) video demo can be seen here:
In this article, Jonathan notes that a key to designing useful location based mobile services,
“will be anticipating what people need, based on where they are and what they’re doing. And the most important question will become, “What do your users need to know right now?“
Apple demonstrates this nicely here:
I read a post this morning saying that the Iphone has now become the number 1 handset in the world…perhaps in 2009 when all the bloggers post their “predictions for the web”…the mobile web will really and truly be in widespread use….thanks to Apple and Nokia (don’t forget the N series).
For Apple and the Iphone, I think that Apples application based content strategy for the Iphone is interesting…and profitable. (Consider for a moment the sum total of many micro-payments through their application store on Itunes!)
The web is basically too cumbersome for a mobile interface….and through specific Iphone apps users can easily interact with the content they want when they want it.
News.com.au after launching an Iphone version of their site had a 60K increase in site traffic!
Of course, web browsing is also a possibility, and as time moves on more web sites will offer mobile friendly interfaces, but I think the Iphones widget-like content strategy is extremely suited to mobile and mobiles ability to fuse the real and virtual worlds….for us here in Australia anyway….I hear the Asians are pretty advanced in this merged space…..