Sunday, August 3, 2008

The iPhone Has Arrived

Yes indeed, I am talking the app store and the applications. I have expressed excitement about this previously, and now it is time to back that up. Now that the apps have been out for a while, I have finally hung out with some of my iPhone relatives (MRP, RDP) who use their iPhones more than I use mine, and they put me on the road to some apps. All of these ones are free, too.

  • Facebook - now it's like Twittering.
  • Jott - voice records a memo, sends it off, and it comes back as text.
  • myLite - admit it, you've used your cell as a flashlight.
  • Shazaam - wow. More below.
  • Sudoku - I hope you know what sudoku is! (Several versions are available.)
Shazaam bears some explanation, because at first it sounds unlikely. We tested it, it works. It is amazing at first. It may not actually be useful, but it is awesome. 

It recognizes music.

We tested it at home with decent fidelity and low interference. We tested it in the wild, where it worked in a shake shack in Hell's Kitchen but not at a coffeeshop with too much noise and poor fidelity. The iPhone will listen to the music that is playing somewhere, and it does a Fourier transform of it (I understand that part, but I am not entirely clear on the sampling time frame -- Wikipedia will not help you). Basically it does a frequency analysis. It sends the (small) analysis off, the central Shazaam servers analyze it and compare it to the all-important database, and replies with the answer. It also links to the iTunes store where you can buy the song and YouTube where you can watch the video.

It got Underground, Buena Vista Social Club, and Tricky. We were impressed! It failed at U2 but that was due to too much noise, where the voices and the music were all overlapping in terms of frequency. I tried it with the Portal song but apparently that is not in the database. But try it, it really shows the awesome capability of the iPhone when linked with a much larger database and more processing power (notice this is similar to Jott, in terms of offloading the heavy work). Mixed mobile cloud computing? Powerful, when combined with a relatively open platform so lots of people can code for it. Let a million flowers bloom.