Can someone develop a complete car parking app please?

traffic warden

I try not to drive my car around the city for meetings; often it’s much easier to walk, take a CAT bus or use Uber. But sometimes, an event may be on the other side of the city in the late afternoon or evening, from which I want to get home afterwards. My only option is the car, and finding a nearby car park or spot on a side road.

Which got me thinking the other day – why can’t I park, and an app tell me how much I have to pay, with payment taken at the end of my time based on how long I was there for? (The ‘Uber of car parking’, if you like.) The app would estimate the charge for the time. Even if overshoot my time (say, the event goes on longer than expected), it need not matter as I would be charged when leaving (the app could let me know the new total charge – and I could decide to stay on or leave). The phone would know where I was, when I arrived and left the parking spot and therefore how much to charge. The funds would then be taken automatically, and go to the local council, or Wilson, or whoever (private car bays could be used as well). The app would take a small % as a enabling fee.

It wouldn’t be that hard to develop. Most of the effort would be in getting all the car bays loaded on, and the permission of those that owned them. You’d get the larger car bay companies and councils on board first (explaining how this was going to save them costs and ensure all bays were paid for, making them more revenue). Private car bay owners could then have an uploading and admin system built for them.

No more overdue tickets, no more fines, no more paying more for what you use, no more fumbling around for coins at the nearest ticket meter in the rain. Indeed, no more parking meters or ticket inspectors. (There would be a transition period during which you’d still have the existing system but overtime the old would be phased out, and we’d wonder why we ever had them.) If you tried to park without paying, you’d get a warning, and if you did not agree to the ticket you would be fined. Appropriate warnings would come as notifications.

A central command would know where possible bays are, and could guide you to them. They’d know who’s parked where, who’s paid and who has not. Totally efficient, no one would get away with not paying, indeed no one need be be fined. All done on an app, every time.

Over time, an efficient use of all car bays would make for better use of vehicles on roads, less time wasted trawling around for car park spaces, less angst, and a better use of all space available.

There are many car parking apps out there, but none of them do this. Some find car bays that are on their system, some try to hook you up (AirBnB style) with private spaces for hire, and some know how many bays are available in real time in the larger city parking spots. But no one pulls it altogether. Someone will, one day.

P.S. No, I have not been fined recently (!); I’ve just been mulling this over. Now, over to you…

Photo: Dom Joly’s Traffic War

Flip Case … flipping brilliant

Earlier this week, the talents down at Filter Squad put up their latest creation – FlipCase – on the App Store. A free app, it uses the plastic case of the new iPhone 5C to create a Connect4 game – watch the 1 minute video above to see what I mean.

350,000 Youtube video views later – it looks like FlipCase has gone viral. What struck me was the simple genius of the idea, the lateral thinking involved in seeing the case as part of the exercise. In an era of complex virtual reality 3-D HD gaming, FlipCase returns us to a simpler, more innocent time, with a wave of warm nostalgia. It’s free, it’s fun – why not while away an empty moment?

The creators – Dave McKinney and Stuart Hall – are the same team behind the devastatingly awesome Discovr app – 3.5 million downloads and counting. They had an inkling about doing something for the new iPhone 5C. They had seen images of the new phone with its plastic cases, but did not have their hands on one. So, just in case (no pun intended) they could do something with it, they started mapping out how it might work, and how they could get the coloured circles to bounce on cue within the holes.

As soon as the new phones and cases came to town, Dave went down to Perth’s only Apple store, took some cases out to plonk over the screen (a helpful Apple employee pointed out they were supposed to go the other way), and bought three. After that , the whole thing was then cranked out in 2 days.

Why do a free app? How can they benefit? The guys just want to create something cool. They thought it would be fun to do, and that people might like it. Something novel, something they could be proud of. The PR benefits of being mentioned on PC Mag.com , CNet AustraliaPolygon and dozens more are probably more than enough for Filter Squad. One comment simply says : “humans are great.

Job done boys. Well done.

Meanwhile, download FlipCase and flip out your brain… flipping brilliant!

FlipCase is an App optimised for iPhone5 and the latest iOS7 operating system

Dave McKinney (@davidkmckinney)
Stuart Hall (@stuartkhall)

Start Me Up (in 43 hours)

Start Up Weekend 2013

(L->R) Raffle Rabbit, Naughty 3D and iConnect make their final pitches

Just spent an amazing weekend down at SpaceCubed in the city with 100 start up crazies, various organisers, mentors, pitch coaches and sundry other folk. Even the Lord Mayor was there at the outset on Friday night wishing us well.

Yes, StartUp Weekend Perth 2 has just concluded, 6 months after the first ever attempt at this full-on entrepreneurial frenzy. I was blown away then, and again this time round. The sheer range of ideas, code cracking, designing and business thought, all condensed into a frenetic 3 nights and 2 days… amazing to behold.

As ever, I come away humble at teams of 7 or 8 folks who’d not met before Friday night, had not worked on the business idea before, yet turned a 1 minute pitch into working website, customer research, apps and fully worked through business models and in some cases, revenues by Sunday evening. When I consider how long projects take me, it’s jaw dropping. But it’s not just the speed, it’s the quality of the design, the UX, the thought, the effort and execution that impresses.

Its unfair to pick one or a few, so let’s name then all: Squidee (allows you to show changes to design between client, manager & designers/programmers; Air Tutor (using up unused tutor time with students); GetontheList (getting you into that nightclub); Virality (predicting the next viral video and selling this as a service to business); Maileo (using connections within your near networks to connect you); Raffle Rabbit (making raffles easy for school fund raising); Styleable (trying on clothes online before you buy); WhatSportsWhere (you never miss you favourite sports action); ZeroDay (augmented zombie game); HandUp (making it easier for women to find part time work); OpShopin.co (Op Shops online); Naughty 3D (3D printing for adult products), iConnect Catering (gets you food/drink at events to your seat) and NinjaVest (making it easier to invest).

I spent some time with NinjaVest, Virality & Maileo. I was especially impressed by Squidee, iConnect & Raffle Rabbit. In my humble opinion, these have a real chance of making a go of it.

And the winner is (judges panel choice):

1st – iConnect
2nd – Naughty 3D
3rd – Squidee

… so 2 out of 3 ain’t bad 🙂

Last time, 3 or 4 businesses kicked on. I wonder which of these will…

for more on StartUp Weekend: http://perth.startupweekend.org/

Start Up Weekend logo

Ten Tips on building and promoting your App

apps

1.Mobile is a marketing medium, that’s it. It’s a priority because it gets results, which you need to measure – does it generate leads, get more listings, branding, improve custom service?

2.Your app will brand you like nothing else around at the moment – more than QR codes or SMS databases; an app says much more about you, and permanently connects you (like nothing else can) to your clients

3. Smartphones and tablets are fundamentally different devices, you can’t design for all 3 screens. Layout is different. Engagement is much more on phone or tablet (maybe because users are lazing on a couch, not hunched up over their work computer)

4. Don’t jump into implementation, define what you want out of it, define your strategy, determine the sucess metrics, THEN implement.

5. Developing the app – lay out screen shots with your app designer and users and think through how navigation work. Flui is a good online service for this.

6. Push notifications can send information to users – are an excellent tool

7. Test, test and test again. Get as many as possible involved in the testing before it goes anywhere near the App stores

8. Think user experience (“UX”). Only.

9. You have to promote your app. The App Store won’t do it for you. Have a dedicated web page on your site, get influencers to use it and rate it.

10. Review the experience, and test your outcomes against your goals for the app.

Welcome to the brave new world of app development.

Videos so easy with iMovie

A new toy. A rainy Saturday afternoon.

My daughter was eager to learn how to make videos from her iPod Touch, so we downloaded the iMovie app ($5) and we were away. She making funny videos of her friends, and me making some of our recent holiday and an overview of the RE BarCamp held recently in Perth.

Talk about easy to use technology, making you look WAY better than you are actually are.

The death of the web site

I’ve been noticing a trend over the past year or so, that may point to the death of the website (and world wide web) as we know it.

Like you, dear reader, I have apps on my iPhone (and now iPad) that are holding more and more of my attention. I am visiting ‘web sites’ less and less. In fact, there are apps I use (shazaam, foursquare, evernote, tuneinradio, localmind, instagram, autostitch…) for which I have never (or very rarely ever) visited the web site. I spend more and more time on the app versions of twitter, facebook, hootsuite and the like, and less and less on their traditional web site. It’s faster, better, cleaner, and I do it on the go. And it’s not just me. There is a whole generation of 20-somethings and younger whose only real experience of the internet at all is through their apps. They judge email like we do our letter box (full of bills and spam). Web sites are not for them… hardly at all.

Apps are there, on your phone/tablet – push a button and they fire up. They are part of you, in the same way the phone is – it has your photos, calendar, email, camera… and you carry it with you. Apps’re just so easy. No loading of web sites, and they make funky use of the sensors of the device, incorporating the camera (famously with Instagram, Torch and a whole slew of augmented reality apps), geolocation, tipping (the ‘drinking beer’ one or fishing or many gaming apps), swipe, touch, flick, sound, microphone. You can’t touch web sites, or swipe them. It’s just more personal, more engaging and more real somehow. They can even work offline.

Does this mean web sites will become less relevant, and apps will take over? Yes, probably. Should businesses now develop apps for their business shopfront, and spend less time on their next web site upgrade (perhaps getting an app instead)? Maybe. I think you need to consider how you want to engage with your clients. In the same way too many 1990’s and early 2000’s websites were merely online brochures replacing the offline printed versions (many still are), you should not think of an app as a mere replacement for a web site. It’s a whole different experience and connection. 74% of iPad users take it into the bathroom with them. Now there’s a thought.

[Photo Credit: from SimpleMovieReview.com]