Mobile Phone Applications

A couple of months ago my friend and I planned on developing an iPhone application to coincide with the launch of the Apple’s iPhone application store. So he asked me to think of some ideas we could potentially work on to create an iPhone application. However in the end it turned out to be all talk and no work. We just didn’t have the time due to university work and other commitments. However I did come up with a few ideas some that are possible to develop on the iPhone and others that are currently not possible.

The ideas:

1. A beat maker: This was the first idea I came up with but I’m sure I wasn’t the first one to think of porting a beat maker to the iPhone. My friend really liked this idea and was sure it was possible to develop for the iPhone. What I envisioned was a strip down version of Fruity Loops for the iPhone where musical producers can craft their beats and melody while on the move.

2. An SMS/Email Jargon translator: I was thinking this would be a great app for those who are not up with the SMS/Email abbreviations and acronyms. Because there are word limits to SMS or that because people do not want to type out entire words or phrases, people have opted to use abbreviations. So I was thinking maybe we should have an app that helps translate the received message from short form to proper English most people are used to. There can be several options to translate from being a full translation where the entire message is reworded or words are left as they are but users can hover over the word to find the proper meaning(s) of the short form, which should help them learn the language as they go. I was thinking it would probably be a good idea too, to have a spell checker for common typos. However my friend said this app would currently not be possible to develop for the iPhone.

3. An adventure game: This idea is one of my favourites. An easy point and click game for the iPhone. A nice long adventure game to keep someone entertained while on the move. Just think of a game like Escape from Monkey Island on your iPhone. The graphics don’t have to be tremendously mind blowing and the game can take advantage of the touch sensors. Also the game is slow pace and not too demanding unlike First Person Shooters (FPS). Therefore users will not have to flick their screens left and right and make quick movements.

4. A multiplayer mini party games: Just think of Mario Party on your iPhone! Users can either go online or find friends and strangers within their wireless proximity to join and have a battle royale in mini games. You just have to be creative in utilising the iPhone’s touch sensor to create mini games. For example a game where users have to click as fast as they can or control their character to dodge a projectile or have the fastest reaction time. After a set of games the winner is declared the champion and stats are tallied up and stored. The winner can also have bonus rounds where they choose what mini games to play. It should be a fun and sustainable game as the developers can release second edition, third edition and so forth with new mini games in each sequel.

5. Worms-like game: Another multiplayer iPhone game to allow users to blast each other away on a turn based Worms-like game. The game graphics can be either in 2D or 3D mode. It should definitely be a hit in classes or on the bus!

6. A photo manipulator/editor: I'm pretty sure someone has done or is creating an app that allow users to edit captured photos or uploaded photos on their iPhone. A stripped down version of Photoshop would be a really cool app where the user can distort images, crop, use effects, paint and add other images or clip art to the image. This app should allow the user to create fun and wacky photos to show friends while on the move. Also it should allow users to create works of arts with brushes and palettes, utilising once again iPhone's touch sensors.

7. Parent/Child tracking device: My friend says this would currently not be possible to implement on the iPhone but I really like this idea. In all families nearly every family member has a mobile phone nowadays. So how about an app where the parent and their child can view and track each other's location on a map.

I’ll give you two scenarios where this app can help out:

1. A mother is picking up her child from school. The child is playing on the front lawn with his/her friends and is oblivious to when their parents have arrived to pick them up. So as soon as the mother arrives within proximity the child’s mobile will start to ring/vibrate and give the child the signal that their parents are close by and they should be on the look out for their parent’s car.

2. Classic shopping centre scenario where the parents and child go shopping. Usually kids get separated or like to go their separate ways when shopping with their parents. The parents can set a rendezvous point when they send out a signal on their mobile to their child or should be able to track down their child’s location using the map view.

8. Portable Karaoke: Now this was a silly idea I just thought up but I’m going to put it out there anyway. So in this app it offers the users songs, with and without vocals, for which they can sing along with. Lyrics show up on screen just like any karaoke machine. Users have the option to record their sessions on the mobile phone if they like. Also users should be able to download karaoke packs containing more songs for the phone app.

Well the above was just a few ideas I conjured up while thinking of developing an iPhone application. It would be pretty cool if anyone could turn any of these ideas into reality (some already have been done like the beat maker).However some of the ideas currently cannot be implemented on the iPhone but future phones should be able to implement some of the ideas mentioned above. The iPhone is not the only phone that allows developer to create applications for it. Google has its own SDK, called Android, which allows developers to create applications for other smart phones. There are already a few firms who specialise in developing applications for mobile phones and that number will grow tremendously. The mobile phone application development industry is relatively young with a large and fast-growing market, which makes it a very exciting industry to be in.

Victor Tsen August 2008

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