How many of you spend time looking at possible applications to install on your iPhone or other smartphone? (Max meekly raises his hand.) I will admit that I’m probably well-suited for the job of Technology Coordinator because I get excited about new gadgets and how they might make our lives run more efficiently. It does take a lot of weeding out of the junk to get to the good stuff. The kind of gadgets we once called ‘toys,’ are those that are finally coming to a bit of maturity in their development. For instance, I’m a big fan of the iPhone. This, despite the really horrible phone service we experience in Chicago.
I have heard a bit of buzz about two new applications that I wanted to share with you. The first one is not really an application, more of a mobile service. It’s called, appropriately, Google Buzz. So, what’s the buzz about Buzz? Google shared with the world yesterday its entry into the social networking arena. Google’s vice president for product management referred to the “human penchant for sharing experiences and the social media phenomenon of wanting to share it in real time.” Sounds a bit like Twitter or Facebook, you say? This feature will be integrated into Gmail and will roll out to users this week. It will appear as an option below your Inbox. With Buzz, you can share your status, Google Reader shared items, your location, images from Picasa and Flickr as well as YouTube videos. You can also comment on others posts, or even email someone else another persons post. Whew. You can mute your own posts or others posts so they do not appear in your stream. I haven’t figured out yet how to only allow certain other items appear – for example, perhaps it’s ok if SOME public photos from your Flickr photostream appear in Buzz but not all public photos. You can restrict your status update to groups of people. Similar to Buzz, Google recently came out with Wave, which in theory had great promise but has proven to not be the email killer it was thought to be. The main difference between the two is that Wave is about collaboration and Buzz is about conversation. PC World has an article summing up some of the main differences between these two. So, it’s only been one day since Buzz has been the buzz. We’ll see what happens with it.
The second one and the one I’m more interested in for the possibilities it has, is RedLaser. The iTunes store calls RedLaser “impossibly accurate barcode scanning.” It is effectively a scanner that uses the built-in camera on the iPhone to scan barcodes. It can handle UPC, EAN, UPC-E and EAN-8 barcodes. You use the scanning device in the program and it searches for prices at any place that sells that item. Originally I thought it was just for books because I had read an article that said it was for books only. After reading the iTunes store information, I discovered by rummaging through my co-workers cubes, that it does, in fact scan in ANY barcode. We discovered that we can buy Sparco Pure Rubber Bands for $3.00 from one vendor compared to $6.00 and higher at other vendors! I did try it out on some books in the GMR Lending Library and below are some screenshots of what we found:
First you scan the item, in this case a book.
Then, you get results returned to you.
Finally, you can get more specific information about a library near you that holds the item. Pretty cool, eh?
What other nifty smartphone apps have you been using that have helped make you more efficient?