February 07, 2013
Help my wife nag me (in a good way!)
Okay, enterprising coders, here’s your free million-dollar (or at least multi-dozen-dollar) idea o’ the day: I need a way for my wife to assign me a task/reminder & geofence it.
For example, yesterday she sent me to the kids’ preschool with a tuition check in hand—which I promptly forgot to deposit. I wished she could have sent me a reminder that was associated with the school’s location. 30 seconds after arriving I could have gotten a notification. Then this morning she forgot her phone & asked me to bring it to work. I wanted to turn her text message into a reminder pegged to my current location: if I try to leave here, ask me about that phone.
I did a little poking & I see that the iOS Reminders app lets me geofence items (i.e. remind me either when I arrive somewhere or when I leave), but I can do this only if I have my phone handy. Via iCloud.com you can add people to reminders—but then you can’t (as far as I can see) make those location-specific.
So, who’s gonna code up not “Find My Friends,” but “Remind My Friends”? (This seems like a great addition to the fun couples’ app Avocado.) C’mon, it’ll be fun to get Sherlocked at WWDC, won’t it? ;->
Of drills & holes
While building new apps I keep thinking of the quote attributed to the CEO of Black & Decker: “People don’t buy our tools because they want one-inch drills. They buy them because they want one-inch holes.”
As technologists we think about the guts of things, but customers often favor the simpler thing (Twitter, Mac OS Spotlight) over the more conceptually powerful one (Google Wave, WinFS). My career’s full of this: advocating general, interesting stuff (e.g. HTML layers for Photoshop) only to get pantsed by simpler approaches (just tweaks to the existing PS vector tools).
I’ve heard that Amazon starts projects by writing a press release of what features the user will see, then working backwards to check that they’re building something valuable. We’d do well to do the same. As Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.”