Some long-term thinking about temporary applications

Sep 13, 2010
Finance

We need temporary apps that dissolve like time-release capsules – and trends are converging to take apps in that direction. This is Fashion Week in New York – an event crammed with shows and press conferences and parties spread around the city for a week. Managing the logistics can be painful. A Fashion Week guide […]

We need temporary apps that dissolve like time-release capsules – and trends are converging to take apps in that direction.

This is Fashion Week in New York – an event crammed with shows and press conferences and parties spread around the city for a week. Managing the logistics can be painful. A Fashion Week guide would be ripe for a comprehensive smart phone app. Some developers are thinking that way. Lustr, which is normally a shopping-related app, put together an iPhone guide for the week’s big night, Fashion Night Out. Copenhagen’s Fashion Week, in August, developed an iPhone and Android app to help attendees.

But here’s the thing: You don’t need those apps on your phone all the time. You just want them for the duration of the event. So why not create a mechanism that pops the app onto your phone when you arrive, and kills it when you leave?

Apple goes after patent for “Location Specific Content”

Actually, Apple (AAPL) seems to be thinking along those lines, too. In May, it applied for a patent for “Location Specific Content.” The application describes a way to have an app or content appear on a phone when the phone gets within a certain area, and disappear when the phone leaves that area.

This could be handy for all kinds of situations. Recently, museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York have jumped on the app wagon, releasing location-aware apps that can guide you around a museum and tell you more about what you’re seeing. But, you have to remember to download the app, and then it sits on your phone. Most people only go to a given museum once. Even hardcore fans of a museum just go a few times a year.

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A temporary app would be better. There might be a setting on your phone that lets you decide if you’re open to temp apps. If yes, then when you get someplace offering a temp app, you might get a notice on your phone asking if it’s OK to download the app. Click yes, and the app comes in, telling you it will dissolve when you leave a certain area, or after a certain amount of time. (Presumably, you could choose to turn off the temporary function, so the app stays on your phone.)

Temporary apps for conferences, adventure travel and watching the game

A number of other possible uses are being tossed around. Any big business conference could have a temp app with the agenda, maps, speaker bios. A public library could drop a temp app on your phone with the card catalog. When you drive into a National Park, you might get a temp app packed with maps, camping information, emergency numbers and other updates.  Go to an NFL game, and get a temp app with player information, concession menus, and maybe instant replays.

I could see this on a long-haul flight on a plane that offers wi-fi. You board, and the wi-fi pings your phone or iPad with a temp app much like what you find on the seatback systems on a Virgin America flight: a way to order food and drinks, a chat function with other passengers, a flight route map and some entertainment options.

Once you leave the plane the app uninstalls itself, and maybe another app will pop up to help you find a cab.

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