Cell Phone Software Requires a New Mindset

Alex Krupp talks about cell phone software and why it’s not working

These are good points, but I remain pretty certain that it will be an area that takes off. I think that, as things stand right now, some of the ingredients are:

  • Discard what you know about what an application should be like. I think a lot of people approach things with an idea that might work on the web or a desktop, and “whittle it down” some. I think the best cell phone apps will be things that are created from the ground up with the cell phone environment in mind. For example:

  • Radically simple. It has to be super simple and easy to use. You should get the basic functionality from it within one or two clicks of opening it (consider that the user already had to click 3 or 4 times just to open your application in many cases).

  • By making an application that’s radically simple, it becomes easier to port it to all the many phone platforms out there. If you aren’t doing much that’s fancy, you’re not likely to run into strange limitations.

  • The advantages will come from what makes mobile phones convenient: the fact that they are portable and can basically do simple network access all the time.

  • Since it’s networked, build applications that are half mobile, half on the web. Complicated interaction goes on the web, and the mobile portion does “the simplest thing that could possibly work”.

My own simple example of an application that basically meets these requirements is a mobile shopping list (with the highly original name of ShopList that doesn’t suck. By that I mean that you would either be already insane or be insane in short order if you tried to enter a shopping list into a phone via its keypad, so that is taken care of on the web.

Sure, it’s not a billion dollar startup idea, but I think I’m on the right track with how to create applications and what sorts of things to create.

Detailed Austrian Topographic Maps

My wife Ilenia can attest to my love for maps. Whenever we go hiking and I find a nice map of the area, she usually has to pry me away from it. But I especially love maps on line. As a kid, I used to buy the USGS topo maps at the bookstore, but getting more than a few was expensive for my budget and sort of futile, as you would have to purchase a large number of them to cover any significant amount of territory. So I was happy indeed when I discovered TopoZone. And who doesn’t like google maps?

It was with great joy that today I finally found some good map sites for our new home in Tirol:


It’s not the fastest thing in there, but it’s got lots of information that you can play around with.

The second one that I found utilizes the dataset to produce maps with mountain bike routes on them:


Too cool!