Apple To Let Push-Button Based Location Sharing Feature On iPhone?

There are patents aplenty on letting users know if any of their friends are in their vicinity based on GPS information. While that is certainly cool, it is not particularly useful. Here is a nifty new feature that one might get to see in future versions of the iPhone.

In a fresh patent filed recently at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Apple has described a technology that will help users send their location details to their friends at the push of a button. Alternatively, users may also request for location information from their friends.

This can be pretty useful if one of your friends is lost or feels the GPS is not particularly helpful. With a lot of location related patents being filed by Apple of late, it is to be seen how the company plans to integrate all these services into one comprehensive location tool. It will be interesting if we get to see some of this in iPhone OS 4.0.

[via Patently Apple]

Google Store Views To Let You Window Shop?

Search Engine Land has reported that they have received a tip from a New York based retailer who claims Google visited their store to capture images of the interior of their store for a new Google Maps based product, ‘Store Views‘. SEL writes

“Google Store Views will allow people to essentially walk into the store, off of Google Street Views. So imagine you are looking at this store, and then you can click on the door to enter it, all on Google Maps. Then when you enter the store, you can wall through it.”

While Google has refused to comment over this speculation claiming they always experiment with newer features and have nothing to announce, I do not see any particular value in such a tool.

Unlike Street View, the layout of a store is immaterial to most users. The only thing that would interest users is if a particular brand of product is available at any particular store; in which case, Google will have to revisit the shop frequently to update their pictures – a very unscalable model for a Google Maps based product.

It is possible that Google integrates Google Checkout to products on shelf on the virtual store which is again a difficult proposition considering the items on shelf change very frequently.

What do you think Google intends to do with such a Store View feature. Let us know what you think.

[via Search Engine Land]

Yahoo’s Predictive Technology Will Display Ads Depending On Your Travel Destination

Exciting. Location-based advertising is not exactly new. But a new patent filed by Yahoo takes it a step further which will help to make advertising a lot more targeted and useful.

Imagine that you are in San Francisco and are driving to Los Angeles. A search query for “Best hotels” would normally pick your location and display advertisements from San Francisco based hoteliers. However, according to a new patent titled “SYSTEM FOR PROVIDING LOCATION PREDICTIVE ADVERTISING” filed by Yahoo at the US Patent and Trademark Organization (USPTO), the algorithm may be able to study the direction you are traveling to determine your destination and deliver ads accordingly. Thus a search for “best hotels” from San Francisco while traveling to Los Angeles might actually get you results for Los Angeles based hotels.

Explaining about this technology on their patent, the inventors write

“a system may include a memory, an interface and a processor. The memory may be operatively connected to the processor and the interface and may store an advertisement. The interface may communicate with an electronic device. The processor may determine a first geographic location of an electronic device which is travelling in a direction. The processor may identify a first geographic region which may encompass the first geographic location of the electronic device. The processor may determine a second geographic region which is located in the direction of travel of the electronic device. The processor may determine an advertisement associated with the second geographic region in accordance with the electronic device being located within the first geographic region. The processor may provide the advertisement to the electronic device. ”

Yahoo says this technology can be used at an intra-city, inter-city as well as international level. They further claim that advertisers who spend a lot of their budget purchasing inventory from untargeted sources (Eg: Hoteliers in Los Angeles purchasing inventory in San Francisco) may now save money on such a wasteful expenditure.

Do you think that’s possible?

Amazon Working On Multi-Touch Kindle?

Amazon’s recent acquisition of TouchCo, a New York based startup focusing on multitouch technology has given rise to speculations that the company might be working on what NY Times calls a “Super Kindle” – a device that can take on competition from Apple’s iPad more head-on.

So what does TouchCo actually do? The company has built a patent-pending multi-touch technology that unlike traditional capacitive screens can detect any object and not just a finger and process actions based on the pressure applied. Apparently, this also consumes lesser power and costs less to produce.

This could mean that Amazon shall be able to build a multi-touch device at a cost lower than the iPad. Having said that, this is just one small bit in a large array of features that Amazon will have to build on its Kindle in order to serve as any sort of significant threat to the iPad and it will be interesting to see how Amazon increases the features on the Kindle to take on its competitors in the months to come.

[via NY Times]

New Nintendo Platform To Be Unveiled Next Month

The annual Game Developers Conference is scheduled to be held from 9-13 of March this year at San Francisco and there are already speculations that Nintendo could be announcing a new game platform during the event.

Quoting an employee from a major international publisher company, VideoGamer reports that a lot of game developers have already started working on the new platform. In the source’s words

“Just heard a rumour that you may be interested in: Nintendo are going to announce a new platform at GDC. Some devs have already started work on it.”

No information is presently available regarding the specifics of the new platform and whether it will be a handheld or home console. Regardless of this, speculations have been rife about the likelihood of a new platform announcement in the past few weeks, especially since Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata’s statements recently during an investor conference. Asked if Wii’s HD compatibility was going to be good enough to counter competition, he had replied

“Do you think it would sell with just that? It needs something new. If there were no rival makers in the world, I could give examples of the things that we are considering.  However, for competitive reasons, I cannot give specifics today on the what or when of the things we’re considering.”

[via Video Gamer]

RIM Working On OS 6.0 For Blackberry

Folks at Boy Genius Report write in that they have received solid tips from one of their contacts that Research In Motion, the company behind Blackberry has started its work on the next generation operating system.

Not much information is available at the moment about what we can expect from Blackberry OS 6.0. There have been earlier rumors about RIM launching OS version 5.2 later this year. Considering that this new version is not a decimal iteration over 5.2, it is likely that some very significant additions are introduced.

RIM had acquired Torch Mobile WebKit browser late last year and we see this as a possible addition to the handset. Also, recent patents filed give an indication of work towards improving the overall performance of the device to be something of paramount focus.

[via Boy Genius Report]

Google Launching Business App Store

More than two million businesses today use either the free or paid version of Google Apps. This is in stark contrast to the over 500 million users of Microsoft Office. While one of the important reasons why Google Apps is yet to pose a significant challenge to Microsoft is undoubtedly the apprehensions about storing data in the cloud, there are also complaints about the lack of sufficient features on Google Apps.

In order to solve this, Google has apparently taken a leaf out of Apple’s book in order to launch a business app store primarily for businesses using of Google Apps. According to reports on the Wall Street Journal, this app store will function very similar to the Apple App Store. Developers can create applications that will offer an enhanced experience to Google Apps users – for instance, advance security features or the ability to import contacts. These applications can be sold on the business app store where Google will take a cut out of the sales and the remaining shall go to the developers.

An app store for businesses can be extremely rewarding simply because of the margins that it can offer. Unlike the Apple App Store which plays on volumes and where the prices of applications are most often under $10, those applications on Google’s business app store can sell at several hundred, if not thousands of dollars, considering that these are built for established businesses though the volume of sale is likely to be much lower.

However, questions about customer support and reliability on third party developers for applications remain. Considering businesses study a lot of parameters before spending their money, it is to be seen whether Google can actually pull this one off successfully.

What do you think? Can an app store for businesses be successful? Tell us what you think.

[via NY Times, WSJ]

Augmented Reality Coming To Flickr?

Imagine these scenario : You have just been from a trip to New York and have shared pictures on Flickr. One of the pics is of a burger shop that you loved and want to share the same with your friends on Flickr. It is normal for people to write such things on the image description area.

However, Yahoo has a better plan. In a patent filed by the company, the inventors explain the concept of a “virtual note” that can be overlaid across pictures that you have taken so that description of places captured in a photo as well as subsequent comments can happen inside the photo itself.

This is not all. The inventors talk of more embodiments. With geotagging already possible on Flickr, users may also browse across such virtual notes from a map view.

However, the most significant aspect of the invention is the use of augmented reality. The inventors describe that since these virtual notes are geotagged, accessing the service from a mobile device will gather all virtual notes geotagged to locations within a particular radius from the location of the mobile device that can be displayed to the user.

Flickr Augmented Reality

There appear to be a variety of use-cases to such an invention. Primarily this can simply serve as a tagging tool for Flickr users. However, such a tool can also grow to be a local-review feature (like Yelp?)where user reviews of places within localities can be accessed at a press of a button. And the worst use-case of all?Advertisers can use the virtual note feature to promote their places to people in the vicinity; much like Google’s ads on maps.

Nexus One On AT&T And Sprint 3G Networks Soon

The Google Phone could soon be made available on AT&T and Sprint’s 3G networks. If rumors are to be believed, work on this is already happening behind the scenes.

Documents submitted to FCC recently have offered indications of the Nexus One becoming available on AT&T’s 3G network soon. If you are wondering if this is something that is already possible, here is a clarification : Unlocked version of Nexus One is available for $529. However, you cannot use the device to access internet via AT&T or Sprint’s 3G networks. The device can only access the 3G network from T-Mobile. Users who do unlock the device can only access internet via AT&T’s Edge or 2.5G networks.

While partnership with AT&T appears likely after documents submitted to FCC, the speculations about Sprint remain sketchy though. Folks at Gizmodo write that they received the following response when they contacted Sprint for a Nexus One handset

Thank you for contacting Sprint regarding the nexus one.Unfortunately, this handset model is not on offer as of now.Once it is launched, you will see promotional campaigns related to thelaunch date, cost and the features of the handset on our Web site andother promotional media.Thank you for showing interest in our products & services. Please let usknow if you would like us to assist you with anything else.

Not very convincing, but sure gives an indication that something’s cooking.

[via Gizmodo, CNET]

PSPgo Price Drop Imminent?

Sony’s much hyped PSPgo hasn’t lived up to the expectations and sales have been moderate at best. One of the primary reasons behind this is touted to be the price.

Sony PSPgo is priced at close to $100 more than the other models in the segment and with price being one of the crucial factors in this segment, it is likely that Sony drops the price of the gaming console to try and increase the market share.

This apart, a marketing blitz is also likely. Sources close to GamerVision have told the website that Sony is planning a heavy marketing campaign to get the customers interested in the gaming device once more.

What do you think; will a price drop offer the turnaround that Sony is desperately looking for? Tell us what you think.

[via Gamervision]