There has been a lot of interesting moves in the mobile application market this last day, so we’ve rounded up the best of the stories here on GoMo News. Hugely popular iPhone music application Shazam has released a new “Encore” app. Loopt, the free location-based mobile social network for Blackberry, has released a big update. Long distance voice carrier iBasis has released it’s own international calling app, Pingo EZ Dial. And hot GPS search startup Geodelic is announcing a major update to it’s Android application.
Shazam is an app that recognises songs as they’re being played. If you’re in the store and you hear a song that you like, you activate Shazam and it will identify the artist and track. You can even user hum the tune you’re thinking of and Shazam will id it. Then you can tag the track for later purchase. It has consistently been one of the most popular apps on the iTunes stores, with over 10 million users worldwide.
And now it’s time for a big update. But rather than launching “Shazam v.2″, Shazam has released a slightly renamed version of the app with all the updated features called “Shazam Encore”. It’s a stand-alone app, retailing at $5 for download to iPhone or iPod Touch – or there’s the limited free version. What’s new? It now recognises and tags songs faster. A “discover” feature has been added so you can browse music similar to the track you’ve just tagged. And it has an “in-car” mode for when it’s placed in a car dock, that is optimised to more easily tag songs as they play on the radio (presumably so you don’t take your eyes off the road, crash and die).
Geodelic created a pretty exciting new location-based search application that launched this summer. Sherpa only runs on newer smartphone models, and provides hyper-localised responses. It will tell you what the most interesting things within a certain distance of you are – and those results can be filtered by category. One of the more interesting things about Sherpa was that it is one of the few high-end apps released for Android before iPhone. iPhone users can expect to see a free Geodelic app early 2010, but in the meantime, the updated Sherpa 2.0 app is available for Android users.
Geodelic claims the updated Sherpa app is almost twice as fast as the original version. The UI has been simplified, and has been more fully integrated with hardware buttons that Android caters for – so more of the applications functions will be one-click. It also allows more actions to be taken on the hyper-local search results. Making restaurant reservations, booking cinema tickets or accessing Twitter feeds from local retailers will all be built into the app.
Loopt is best described as a social mapping application. It combines social networking, location and local search on mobile so that you can connect to both your friends and nearby locations from one app. Loopt will show you on a map which of your friends are nearby, and lets you share plans and locations on the map. Today Loopt launched an upgraded version, mostly centered around the local discovery features. It now integrates content from recommendation service Pulse, updating options for Facebook and Twitter, locally sourced mobile coupons and reviews from Zagat, Citysearch and the Loopt community.
I love my food, so I’m particularly interested in the Zagat deal. Nina S. Zagat, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of Zagat Survey said “we are excited to offer the Loopt community access to Zagat’s top lists and information about special Zagat events in their area. It is our mission to provide consumers with Zagat content wherever they are and whenever they need it.” Loopt is a Blackberry-only app, currently available for free on selected Curve, Bold and Tour smartphones.
Here’s an interesting one. iBasis falls into the “silent giant” category of companies. It’s a massive international voice call provider, and has specialised in IP calls (or VoIP, if you like) since 1998. iBasis, for example, carries both IP and legacy voice calls for companies including Skype, Verizon, Vodafone, China Mobile, China Unicom and Telefonica. No lightweights, these guys.
Well, iBasis is getting into the storefront business with a new mobile application called Pingo EZ Dial. The application provides cheap international calls for users of most popular smartphones and operating systems – primarily iPhone, Blackberry, Android and S60 users.
The thing that I really like about this app is that once it’s installed, you don’t have to worry about it again. As soon as your phone detects you are making an international call, Pingo EZ Dial automatically routes it through the iBasis system and applies the cheap VoIP charges. You don’t have to load an app, or enter a code, or anything. You can buy Pingo credit on-line (or through your mobile browser), and it works on 3G as well as Wi-Fi.
Now, I use Skype to make my international calls because it is cheap as hell. I lost my bank card during the week and had to ring my bank in Ireland to cancel it. That 15 minute international call cost me a grand total of 22 cent. But it required making the call from my computer, which was something of a pain. If that same cost-saving could be applied to a completely painless mobile app… this could be a big one, I reckon.