Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mobile Social Navigation apps

I recently read two mobile social navigation studies, Barkhuus et al (2008) and Bilandzic et al (2008), that I wish I had conducted myself (particularly Barkhuus et al). Although the results from Bilandzic et al that people were unlikely to phone complete strangers for help finding coffee shops did seem somewhat obvious :-) Interestingly the solution to this problem that Bilandzic et al suggest is similar to the awareness approach taken by Barkhuus et al. So a very interesting couple of papers to read in parallel.

Furthermore some interesting notes about recent commercial technological developments. The CityFlocks system developed by Bilandzic et al has for the most part been replicated by the default google maps application on android phones, in that if you now search for a restaurant on an android phone you get an aggregated list of the reviews of that restaurant from multiple review sites, which includes some information about the reviewer (i.e. their name), if not their contact details. This functionality is not yet available on the iPhone google maps, although it is slated to become available in the future. Latest updates about google mobile stuff here:

Similarly the functionality developed for Connecto by Barkhuus is almost completely replicated by Google Latitude ( in that you can see the locations of your friends, and you can set your location manually or automatically. The big thing missing from Google latitude (which runs on iPhone (in browser) and Android) when compared with Connecto is that it doesn't appear to run in the background (at least on the iPhone) and doesn't integrate the information about friend status into the contact list, which I think is one of Connecto's great features. I'm assuming that this kind of integration (friend location and contact list) will be hard on the iPhone, potentially easy on android. Here's a nice blog post showing you what google latitude looks like on the android:

Also of potential interest is that google maps on the android now supports layers, e.g. wikipedia, traffic, your google my maps and more. Here's a link on that:

We live in "interesting times", and it seems like Google is behind a lot of it :-)