Sunday, February 21, 2010

Making smart phones smarter

Way back I recommended that people in South Korea not buy the iPhone if it didn't come replete with all the nifty little localized doodads that make having an iPhone so cool. The automatic "current location" function for finding movie times, restaurants, locations, etc., is the best part of the iPhone, as far as I'm concerned.

I still don't know if the iPhone in Korea has a good supply of English-language items that would justify the cost (which is actually extremely low if you're on an SK payment plan), but the Korean phones certainly have this in Korean, and they're always looking for ways to improve on this.

In that vein, this Korea Times article on Korean smart phones discusses some of the enhancements:
The country's biggest mobile telephony operator unveiled new software Wednesday that uses the built-in cameras on phones to offer users a wealth of location-specific information, such as transportation, restaurant, and shopping options, and the number of tickets available at movie theaters nearby.

The product, dubbed as "Ovjet," is one of the first mobile applications here that promises to enable "augmented reality (AR)," or the technology to display electronic information in a real-world view.

SK Telecom hopes Ovjet, which can be downloaded for free from the company's T-Store online applications market (www.tstore.co.kr), will be a popular application for its premium handsets powered by the Google-backed Android operating system, including the recently released Motorola Motoroi and Samsung Electronics' new device hitting the shelves next month.

About 12 of the 15 new smartphone models released by SK Telecom this year will be Android-based models, and Ovjet will be available for all of them, company officials said.
The article, of course, smells like another corporate-journalism tie-in (and don't think South Korea is the only place where this happens), but it is informative nonetheless, and it's something that Apple Korea (and Apple in Cupertino) should be looking at to see what is going on with the competition. If there isn't an app for that, there should be.

South Korean phone service has some nifty little gadgets and services that are in many cases years ahead of what's going on in the US, and it would behoove Apple, Motorola, AT&T, Verizon, etc., to check this stuff out.

For example, I had had a Visa charge verification service (a text message sent to my LG Telecom phone on the LG Telecom network, though it was a service all the telecoms provided) for years when I showed this to someone who worked for Blackberry who just went, "Wow!" I think that kind of service is available now with some providers.

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