A great app that will never be on the iphone? Locale

In March 2005, Judge Robert Restaino jailed 46 people when a mobile phone rang in his New York courtroom and no one would admit responsibility.

So we invented Locale. Problem solved.

Locale in action

Locale was recommended to me by my good friend Sheila. And within a moment of playing with it I started thinking wow this app can do so much for me.

Locale simply makes the android phone do (setting) something when a set condition is triggered (situation). And thats about it. But this is the clever part, there are loads of plugins to make locale work in different ways.

One of my current favorites is the speak Text and Email setting which does just that. When I’m at home, I usually have the phone next to me on the sofa or on the coffee table. Using "say my name" it will speak the email or text out loud to me, so I don’t even have to look or touch the phone. Of course it also says the person calling if thats the case.

The problem is I don’t want my phone to read out messages when I’m in a public place. But this is easily solved with Locale!

I have a situation setup to say if the phone spots my ssid for wireless and/or its pluged in via usb and charging. Then change the setting to allow speaking aloud and reading my messages.

Its that easy!

One of the most common situations I’ve seen and setup myself is to turn on wifi when at home (once again using the SSID) and turn it off when your not near wifi again. I also added a setting to change the ring volume if I’m at home and when I’m not.

There are tons of conditions and sensors which can be bought and setup. From Battery, Bluetooth and Cell stations to Time, Orientation and SSID for the conditions. Volume, Sync, Brightness, Gtalk, Lock, Ringtone, Wallpaper, Wifi are some of the settings which can be tweaked based on the condition (and these are just the free ones).

I said a long time ago, (maybe before I started blogging even) that controlling your profile on the phone would be the key to mastering it. Problem was that changing profiles required too much attention. I mean who has the time or can be bothered to change the profile each time they walk into a meeting or get on the bus? Instead Locale does all the hard work by turning your phone into a series of cleverly thought out sensors…

…and this is just the start. I keep coming up with interesting uses for locale like for example if I was on Foursquare, gowalla or facebook places. I could tell my phone to automatically send a http post to a url when I’m in the location (by gps, 3g, ssid, etc) to automatically sign me in to a location.

So why is this great application not available on the iphone platform?

  1. Well the iphone doesn’t have profiles!? Why?! I have no idea… I guess Apple thought they were being clever or smart
  2. And even if it did have profiles, would Apple allow you to screw around with the defaults? I doubt it…
  3. Even if they would, the apps don’t seem to work together like on the android operating system. For example could you write a app which will turn on and turn off the wifi?
  4. Oh and if that all works, would you be able to do real multitasking and backgrounding to allow locale monitor the conditions of the phone at all times?

The control of the operating system, is squeezing the innovation at the app level. Heck i’m not the only one saying this. And this level of control will ultimately be the downfall of the iOS platform (imho).

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.