MARKETING

5 Apps I Wish Existed

Contributing editor John Brandon could use a few good mobile apps to make his life easier. Any takers on these ideas?
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In my role as a contributing editor at Inc., I've seen hundreds of worthwhile mobile apps. One of my favorites is TaskRabbit--you hire people to complete quick jobs for you, such as taking your clothes to the dry cleaner. I've also tested apps that saved me time (like Hurricane Party, which helps you find get-togethers in your area) and money (like LogMeIn Ignition, which can replace an in-person meeting and save on travel).

But over the past few years, I've also kept a running list of a few mobile app ideas that I'd love to see someone create. Check out my list below. Can they be done? Are they already out there, but I've missed them? Weigh in and let me know.

1. Time Gauger

I use Plaxo's task manager to keep track of the many projects I'm juggling. But I have yet to see an app whose sole purpose is estimating whether I have enough free time to take on another project. This app would let me type in my tasks and how long each one will take. There would be a simple gauge that says whether I'm too busy or have sufficient spare time. Then, when something comes along, I'd know if I could take it on.

2. Auto Phone Finder

OK, I know there are tons of phone finders out there. I like the Kensington Proximo device, which can be set to alert you when you leave your phone behind. And, I've covered the Cobra Tag. But these gadgets only work if you set them up beforehand. Apple also has a phone finder app that uses GPS tracking, but I want something that works using Bluetooth and doesn't require any previous set-up. You'd just scan for the Bluetooth signal using another phone (or a Bluetooth-ready laptop). I did this once in my car. I didn't know if I had lost my phone under a seat. So I used the car phone button to place a call--that was how I knew my phone was somewhere close.

3. One-Click Rental

There are plenty of travel apps like Kayak and Expedia, which are both amazingly helpful. And Hertz has a worthwhile service called Carfirmation that sends you a text with the exact location of your car at the parking garage. What I have not seen yet is something like the Amazon one-click system for car rentals. I know this would require some advanced set-up and you'd have to agree to a price range, sort of like Priceline without the hassle. I'd like something fast and easy. Say I'm landing in San Francisco; I'd open the app and click "rent"--done. That way I could focus on retrieving my luggage and getting to my next meeting on time. Bonus points if the app actually saves me money.

4. Auto Tweeter

Okay, this one will require some serious computing know-how, so it might have to come from Google or Microsoft. And, in some ways, something already exists that auto-feeds relevant info to your phone (it's called Google Now). But I'd like an app that auto-tweets. Say I'm in the car running late for a meeting. I'd like the app to tweet that I'm running late, and of course include a meeting hashtag. Or, maybe the app knows I'm boarding a plane because of my location and reservation, so it tweets that I'll be offline for a bit. The Cue app I reviewed recently comes close, but does not auto-tweet.

5. Lifelogger

Not to spoil the fun for Memoto, a device that snaps pictures all day but won't come come to market for a while, but I'd like a lifelogger app. Basically, it would record my life in real-time during pivotal events and experiences. It would need to be super smart and know when I'm near a place where it makes sense to record audio (say, at a conference keynote) or tell me to snap a photo of a nearby point of interest. Or maybe it would read my email, tweets, and texts and discern important milestones, saving snippets automatically--sort of like an auto-generated Facebook Timeline with pictures, audio, and text.

Have any ideas of your own? Post in the comments.

IMAGE: Flickr/liewcf
Last updated: Feb 4, 2013

JOHN BRANDON | Columnist

John Brandon is a contributing editor at Inc. magazine covering technology. He writes the Tech Report column for Inc.com.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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