Apps that Change the World.

phpiha5jx“Apps really do change our daily lives” How many times have we heard that old chestnut? But unless you are one of the increasingly small proportion of adults not using a smartphone in your daily life,  it is actually true. There are genuinely aspects of our world are being changed by the digital toolbox we carry around with us in the form of mobile apps.

Yes we all benefit from those little conveniences offered by Google Maps, or mobile banking whilst waiting for the next bus or taxi.  And speaking of taxis, the world of technology has until now had muted impact and certainly seemed irrelevant to the 65,000strong army of Black Cab drivers who crisscross the nation’s capital delivering everything from paupers to princes to some destination or another. Somehow that stable of London society, so often a feature in the media and cultural world seemed beyond the reach of the technological advances happening elsewhere in the Capital’s diverse economy.

But quite suddenly everything has changed. The digital revolution is reaching parts of our lives that up to now have been otherwise unaffected by technology. The London cabbie, much to his/her chargrin is now not protected by their hard earned knowledge driven ability to pick out a route from Billingsgate to Big Ben in the fastest, or most scenic, or most tranquil manner according to instruction. Tourist, businessperson or casual traveller is all now being presented with options which could seriously cut into the income of our traditional Cabbie.  Indeed, the acquisition of “The Knowledge”, whist still the holy grail for genuine Black Cab drivers in London, is no longer the barrier it once was to entry into this lucrative marketplace.

UBER taxi service is the app which is causing concern amongst the London Black Cab drivers having gained such prominence that it is muscling in on the extremely lucrative Black Cab industry. So what’s so transformative about this app? Well, unlike the traditional Black cab mode of operation this app allows its user to pre book a ride after agreeing a fare and even pay in advance by credit card! Tipping is positively discouraged! “The idea is very simple – if you want a taxi, you look at the app on your phone, see where the nearest car is and order it. You can then watch the little icon on screen as it approaches. The payment is taken from the registered credit card.”

Convenience is our world’s greatest mantra so this app hits the traditional Cabbie approach to “Fares” with a sharp undeniable punch. But the key benefit to the user is the way it tells them where their ride is, how long till it collects them and much more information about their coming journey. This is the point surely; Information is king.  So if the service empowers the user it has a distinct edge over the competition.  IN best social media tradition the clients can even “rate” their ride giving the driver pause for thought is attempting any inappropriate manoeuvres!

The world of mobile apps has impacted for better or worse on so many areas of life in their brief history. What are the best mobile apps that you have heard of or seen in action?  Send us your views on these digital tools.

Texting whilst driving

Texting whilst driving …a concept that is familiar to one and all on the roads of Britain. Whether its a sneaky one word text at traffic lights or a novella during a run up the motorway, its something that society acknowledges is happening to a lesser or greater degree. So, hey, what’s the problem?  Well, to borrow words of veteran football commentator John Motson, “it only takes a second to …er.. kill someone by accidentally driving into them” actually his words are just the start of that sentence of course. The point being whether it’s a 1 second text or a ten minute effort, the risk of making a driving error during that time is immense. In driving terms you can drive 50 metres in a second or less so that little cute message to your friend may turn out to be your infamous last words.

The number of times I see people talking on phones whilst driving beggar’s belief. If they are not texting or talking they are looking at phones whilst driving presumably reading a Facebook banality (boo hiss) or writing a text, or maybe just placing a bet, reading the news, or whatever their passion may be. The thought that this selfish action could end someone’s life, cripple or maim some innocent on in another vehicle, or on the pavement or zebra crossing or whatever seems of little interest to these self-centred morons.

Motoring organisations including, the AA say that they find that some drivers appear “addicted to texting and  using smartphones, it’s an addiction that is very hard to break even when in the car — it will take some system to help people break that addiction.”

Meanwhile the road safety charity Brake, labels the activity “a “widespread menace” which has been shown to slow driver reaction times by 35% and increase the likelihood of a crash by 23 times for commercial drivers.”

Therefore it is with unashamed self-righteousness that I welcome the proposed new developments coming out of the Apple orchard of technological loveliness…they have proposed a method that would prevent this kind of distraction and indeed disable the functionality of certain smartphone actions when an iPhone user is driving. Apple have  applied for patents such as one describing  “a “driver handheld computing device lock-out” system that detects when a user is driving using on-board sensors or pulling information from the car when connected, blocking the use of text messaging or using other smartphone functions from the person driving”.

Apple recognise that this habit of attempting to multi task whilst already multi-tasking (driving) is anti-social. So hats off to Apple, let’s wait for their next update on this but on the face of it any effort to reduce the risk of innocents being wiped out or maimed by idiots behind the wheel is a great step forward.