Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Android/iOS Apps I would like to see

I have been posting quite a bit lately about politically charged things, and not to worry I am gathering sources for another one soon.  That being said I wanted to comment on some Android apps that I would like to see built.  I am not an Android developer, and I lack the time to become one, and these applications would need to be well integrated with existing services so it is unlikely that anyone outside of these companies could easily construct them.

Ikea personal shopping assistant
I was shopping with my wife and kids at Ikea and I saw a great opportunity to make the shopping experience more streamlined.  If you have never shopped at an Ikea before I highly recommend that you try it out at least once for the unusual experience that it offers.  The gist of it is that you start at one end of the store and follow a planned route that takes you through the entire store until you reach a self-service area where you pick the items that you saw on the show-room floor earlier and place them on your cart.  As you are walking through the store you jot down item numbers and locations of the items in the self-service area for reference later.  So me and my wife are trying to shop for furniture, watch two toddlers and jot down long series of numbers with tiny pencils - not ideal.

We both have Android phones.  I imagine that when I enter the Ikea, instead of picking up my list and pencil that there is a WiFi network, and a QR code for the Ikea app.  I install the app and it recognizes (based on the WiFi network) that I am in a particular Ikea.  Maybe I can sign in with my Ikea "family" account maybe I don't have to.  As I am walking through the store and finding items that I want I can simply scan the QR code on the item and place it in my shopping cart.  Let's think about the advantages of such a system for the consumer.

  • I have a running total of how much stuff I am putting in my cart
  • I can get suggested items that are needed to complete the setup (the slatted bed base!)
  • If the stock of an item is limited the app can alert me that I might need to pick a backup
  • When I go to find the items in the self service area the app can give me a well planned path to take
  • A list of videos for assembling the furniture is queued up for later use.
There are also advantages for Ikea.
  • As people in the show-room place items in the carts you can ensure that they are well stocked in the self-serve area
  • Increase ticket totals by suggesting complementary products
  • Increase the number of people served by helping them move through more quickly
  • Identify shoppers with large numbers of heavy items on their lists and offer additional assistance
  • Easy way to alert customers to in-store promotions and draw attention to items that you want to move quickly
Indoor navigation is not great at this point and shouldn't be a show stopper, but with innovations in this area you could do some really cool things.  Imagine something with augmented reality like the Yelp Monocle app.  You could hold up your phone's camera to the show-room floor and have overlays of prices and reviews for the products.  While all of this is great, I would be happy with just having an app that allows me to scan QR codes and add them to a list.

Basically Ikea needs to put less effort on their catalog app and buy/implement a better integrated version of Ikea Picking List.

Netflix/Hulu remote
My wife and I watch all of our "TV" online these days and even though we have a long range wireless keyboard and mouse it is still cumbersome to operate our Mac from across the room.  There are lots of solutions with tiny keyboards and track pads, but those miss the point.  If I am typing an email I am going to go up to the computer, I just want to control certain sites.  I will open a browser window to Netflix and can even search for the movie that I am looking for, but I would like to have an app on my Android device that allows me to play/pause and fast forward or rewind the movie that is playing.  I don't want/need to watch the move on my phone but I would like to be able to control the movie that is playing across the room.  Maybe this would be best implemented with a browser extension, but I feel like it is possible with existing web development tools.  The advantages to the consumer in this case are obvious, but there is an advantage for the content provider.  Key ad real estate!  You would annoy consumers to no end with banner ads on screen for content, but how about an ad on their remote?  Obviously there are people that would rather not have ads on their remote and there would be a paid version of the app for that.

Basically all I am asking for is porting of the YouTube Remote app to work on Netflix.  They already have a Neflix app.

In closing
If there are any folks from Ikea or Netflix listening please develop these Android (or iOS) apps ASAP. Also if there are any gifted Android developers out there who want to make a go of this I would happily help with the server-side development.