At the MobileBeat mobile technology conference this week in San Francisco, the focus was no longer on social applications: Investors and enterprises wanted to talk about money, and app-makers wanted to talk about infrastructure support. But the social apps that made the cut and competed in the startup competition that closed the conference highlighted innovations on familiar use cases, even on the new interface of Google Glass.
Lightt and People+, the two social products in a lineup of nine companies, highlight the fact that the more technology changes, the more what humans do with it stays the same.
People+ is a Google Glass app which offers a radically new user experience for a familiar problem: remembering the names of people who know and meeting the people who’s names you can’t help but know.
Lightt is a video-sharing app, whose president, Pam Kramer, is a case study of how cutting-edge apps are still working on age-old problems: Kramer is a native of Rochester, New York, where her father and grandfather were long-time staffers at Kodak.
Lightt allows users to record videos of any length, edit them and store them to the cloud. The videos are stored not as set, edited files but as snippets that can be recombined. Users can create channels based on tags or metadata and give people access to those particular channels. They can follow others’ streams and share their own videos by email or on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.
Lightt differentiates itself technically by the sheer amount of data it handles, but from the user’s perspective, the main difference is that the app invites editing.
“We worked with a number of filmmakers, and they’ve told us the key to good video is good editing. But a lot of video apps are all about eliminating editing. They just edit for time,” Kramer said.
People+ is a social app built exclusively for Google Glass. It’s so cutting-edge that it hasn’t launched yet and has a one-page website. It draws on the user’s contact information in his or her email and social networking accounts. When those users are nearby, it displays their names and a nugget of information about them to the user, even if they aren’t wearing Glass.
The demo video featured a user socializing in a group of Glass-wearers — it was likely filmed at Google I/O — offered the kind of augmented reality experience on Glass that Google’s original promotional video, displayed at I/O 2013, featured. It was still novel enough that panel of venture capitalists tittered to see it.
The app gathers information from around the Web and combines it with location data floating in the air around the user. The app import the contacts’ location signals from Foursquare and Facebook check-ins, if the user is connected to the contacts on those social networks or if they have shared their location publicly.
As mobile matures, it makes sense that businesses will start moving past novelty and into logistics. But Lightt shows that cloud applications could yet bring a new batch of social applications, and People+ that Google Glass almost certainly will.
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