With the smartphone market exploding, there’s tremendous competition amongst manufacturers and carriers, not to mention loyalists of device types. When will we be able to use the devices we want and still communicate with each other effectively?
In years past I used PalmOS (Treos). Most of my colleagues used the same OS, so sharing contact information (digital business cards) was a snap. We’d just beam information to and from our devices. Today, iPhone “bumping” is gaining popularity, but, for most, sending contact info digitally is done via calling each others phones (stores number only) or sending data via SMS (which requires copying and pasting).
I feel like I’m being punished for using a Palm Pre Plus, mainly because my local friends use iPhones and Blackberries. The only way we can share information with each other is via text messaging, email or web transfer.
Steve Jobs says he’s all for “openness,” so I have to wonder what “open” means to him, as well as other manufacturers. After all, feature exclusivity can be a key selling point of any device. Then again, so can openness in the sense of how mobile devices “talk” to each other. Bluetooth can transmit this information already. Apps can create, send, read and store data. So it’s really a matter of systems allowing an open chain for users to interact.
This week Mashable spotlighted CardMunch in its Spark of Genius series. The service offers human transcription of business cards. In summary, users take pictures of business cards with an iPhone and upload them to CardMunch’s server. Within hours the information is returned, in digital form.
While CardMunch is a great idea and a good alternative to manually scanning business cards (OCR is by no means foolproof), I can’t help but think there’s a better way. And, there is…
We need some standards in the mobile device industry. In this case, a format in which devices can “talk to each other” to transmit contact information. Yes, I’m aware of the QR Code and Microsoft Tag, but even these methods require I “interact” with my phone to properly create the contact.
A standard format could be XML, basic CSV, or an entirely new format. Essentially, what I want is a means to send, via Bluetooth, my contact information to any approved device. I want to be able to accept anyone’s contact transmission, and have it save directly to my contact list.
The concept isn’t new at all. Like I said, I used PalmOS beaming for years, and Bluetooth can be used to share all types of information, including ringtones. But, for some unknown reason, with advances in technology we actually moved backwards in some respects.
So, while I think CardMunch has the potential to provide an excellent service, I want contact info immediately. After all, I don’t use an iPhone and taking pictures of every card would also be a time-consuming practice for me. I was handed more than 100 business cards at the last conference I attended. It took hours to enter them all into a database. If I could have simply swapped info with anyone running Bluetooth, I could have partaken in a much-needed post-trip nap. That, and it would have been so cool to have called any of my colleagues at the hotel without having to go back to my room and hunt for their card.