As I noted I was a judge in the recent Location Wild app competition sponsored by Nakd Reality. It challenged developers to build an app in a week that taps into location.
One of the things I suspect those participating are looking for is feedback on their ideas and implementations, so I wanted to share those here, even as I congratulate the winners. (rules)
In the end, the top winners were:
(1) CityWarfare - A game “add-on” to Foursquare that lets players earn and place “water balloons” and use “water pistols” to “soak” others. The goal is to “stay dry.” Pistols are used when players are in the same venue, water balloons are “installed” and then can go off when remotely “detonated” or at a specific time.
Thomas Fletcher, who just finished college wrote this app, which he details on his homepage. Nakd Reality has a nice write-up on Thomas and the app.
Why I like it:
First off, it does not depend on creating a critical mass to be playable. By building on top of the popular Foursquare Fletcher got a jump start on any “from scratch” games. Any Foursquare player who checks in is in the game, even if he or she is not participating actively. The game also includes “civilians” computer controlled drones that you can shoot at or drop bombs on.
Second, the game reminds me of playing “Assassin,” a murder or be murdered game back in college. The weapon? A squirt gun!
Third, it takes some craftiness. When would you drop the bomb in your local coffee shop to “hit” the most people? At 7:03 am? 8:03 am? Would you put it in Starbucks or an independent shop? That may make you think about you local geography in a different way. And, I like that you can play up close (in the venue) using a water pistol and remotely (at home say) using balloons.
Fourth, the interface is pretty basic text - harkening to the old days of text based games. (Hitchhikers Guide was the one I remember.) I had fun picturing water balloons falling on my neighbors at my local coffee shop hangout.
Finally, this game has very little startup overhead for the developer or the player. There’s no “data” to buy to put the game in motion, just like the best kids games that involved a ball and a stick.
(2) ScatterTree - An app finder that offers up apps to install on your phone based on location. (iPhone 3GS only)
Why I like it:
First off, it’s yet another way to sort through all those apps! That in itself is valuable.
Second, it could be very valuable when you land/get to your hotel in a less well-known city. You might want the local public transit app, the local paper app to join your more broadly geographical apps (like the NPR one and the Starbucks one…)
Why I’m a skeptic:
First, the app, website really, seems to tie into a patent Apple recently received for apps that are themselves location-based. That is, they load when you enter an area/store and uninstall when you leave. That’s what I’d want to play with if I were sitting in a venue (bar) waiting for someone, the scenario used to introduce the app.
Second, I have to ask if ScatterTree has been in development for more than a week (since it was founded in 12/2009 per Crunchbase).
(3) Price Compare - A prototype of a tool to compare distance and cost for collecting a list of grocery items.
Why I like it:
First off, the time and money cost of travel is a daily challenge for many.
Second, it may help not only with your budget by showing the lowest cost store at which to buy it might even encourage you to walk or bike a bit further for a good deal. That might benefit your health!
Why I’m a skeptic:
First off, how tough will it be to get regularly updated data (daily is promised!) from not just supermarkets (chain and otherwise) but local mom and pops? Realistically, how many items could be on the list offered?
Second, how could you price 250 g of spinach (from the example)? While in some places I’m sure you can buy spinach by the pound, in others there’s only a the pre-packaged option so you’d be forced to buy more than you need, making the comparison less accurate store to store.
Third, does the app also keep track of inventory? If I travel the extra 1/2 mile for the cantaloupe, can I be sure there’s one likely to be available?
Finally, unless you are traveling or move, don’t most people quickly learn which store has the best “overall” deals and go there most of the time? (I do - Market Basket, Somerville FTW!) I’m just not sure how often you’d use this app.
I had a great fun exploring and considering the apps submitted and wish all the submitters the best of luck with their endeavors. And, thanks to Nakd Reality for inviting me to judge!
Disclosure: Nakd Reality provided me with an HTC Legend (to keep) to aid in my judging of the contest. Why? I did not until it arrived have a location-aware phone.