After the launch of the first android-based phone, the T-Mobile G1, the next thing we would want to see are the Apps that will go with it. Android’s openness puts the emphasis even more squarely on the code this platform will run, making the hardware almost an afterthought. And while it’s still quite early in the game and things won’t really kick up until the G1 becomes available sometime in October, the Android Market is already looking like an equally if not more vibrant place for great apps for your phone.
Android will most likely be home to the best direct tie-ins to Google’s web apps like Maps, Docs, and Gmail, of any device around. And not only will they shine individually, each Google service is set up as an open API within Android, meaning they’re all available for mashing up with any other type of data imaginable in third party applications, effectively allowing developers to easily convert awesome Google service hybrids into mobile apps.
Maps integrations are the main focus being taken by the early wave of Android Apps, many of which were written in response to the Android Developer’s challenge. Throw in location awareness via GPS or cell towers (another Android core service), and we are looking at some of the next-level Apps.
1. Enkin – basically a visualization framework for location information which can place locations on a two-dimensional map, a quasi-three-dimensional Google Earth type view, and coolest of all, overlay them onto the view streaming live out of your phone’s camera. It uses GPS and accelerometers to sense exactly which direction the camera pointing, giving you an annotated view of the real world. You can add your own placemarkers or draw them in from the internet.
2. Locale – Locale lets you define your most frequented places on a map and set your phone to respond to those places in a number of different ways. While the prototype is mostly focused on phone settings (like switching to silent when you’re in the office or at a movie theater), these kinds of frameworks can be expanded infinitely. Home automation software could be programmed to turn on the lights (or start cooking your breakfast, Pee-Wee Herrman style) once you’re a few blocks away from your home, for instance. It takes Bluetooth proximity to a whole new level, one that’s not dependent on the limited proximity to another device but only your actual real-world location independent of any other variables.
3. GeoLife – a location-aware to-do list. You can pair actions on your list to locations (or types of locations) to get a reminder to buy milk when you’re near a grocery store.
4. Ecorio – Using GPS, Ecorio runs in the background (another edge Android has over the iPhone) and estimates the carbon output of your day’s journeys. Once it learns your habits, it can then suggest public trans or carpooling alternatives.
5. Cab4me – Takes your current location and feeds it into a database of nation-wide cab companies, allowing you to order a cab pickup instantly with your current locations. Google Maps overlays also show areas of cities where you’re likely to hail a cab off the street.
6. BioWallet – Not all of the innovative apps are map based. BioWallet uses your phone’s camera as an iris scanner to lock down sensitive information like account numbers and passwords on your phone, or even the phone itself. Handwriting-based IDs can also be implemented, all processed on external servers and sent back to your phone with a pass/fail reading.
7. CompareEverywhere and GoCart – Both capture photos of product UPC codes to then tie into online databases for comparison pricing, product availability, and shopping list compilation.
8. TuneWiki – Music apps are a bit thin pre-release, but TuneWiki (which is already out for jailbroken iPhones—not in the store yet, which won’t be a problem with Android) is impressive for grabbing lyrics and album art with your music.
9. Teradesk e-Storage – provide many similar services like the AirShare in iPhone, with file versioning and Google Docs integration (one of the first of many G-Docs tie-ins, surely). [via Gizmodo]
The listed Apps above are truly exciting, Enkin and Locale looks very promising and I would to give those apps a testdrive. We just have to wait until October and see if the Android-based phones will put up to all the hype.