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.

Techno Wonder!

Google Maps are good, startlingly good.  However did anyone get from A to B without one!. I can barely get from home to work without a quick check of Maps every morning. Even more impressive is the Street View feature in Maps, where we can actually navigate up and down a chosen street in and see what it looks like from the safety of our living room. Its always noticeable how fantastic steps forward in technology so quickly become assimilated into our daily lives.  The digital technologies of today seem to shower innovations and new ways to enjoy experiences virtually almost without time to catch our breath.   But soon after releasing a new technological wonder we all seem to take these new experiences for granted and what’s more we seem to be irritated by any limitations therein very quickly instead of continuing to celebrate the innovation as an amazing step forward.  How soon before Google Glass becomes passé ? And its not even out yet !diagon alley

Its this high expectation which we have become attuned to that now leads us to  expect street view to be able to show us everything, everywhere  whether in Crewe or Calcutta, Bradford or Bordeaux and with just  a few lazy clicks of the mouse.  Some may gripe about the odd glitch here and there as a computer struggles to keep pace with the demands of the feature but in most cases …well, its fantastic. .

Now street view has gone one step further (pun intended). You can “walk” up and down, in a virtual manner, the famous and tantalizing Diagon Alley of Harry Potter books fame. Yes, step along to visit the Leaky Cauldron pub or the wand shop where Harry finds his perfect …er magic stick.  So what this amounts to is a virtual tour of a virtual world. But it’s a demonstration of the power of street maps because the set where this street exists as a physical reality is in fact in the Warner Brothers Studios in Hertfordshire. It’s a tourist attraction to hundreds of thousands if not millions of potential visitors. The shops are crammed with objects (20 thousand of them) and help bring the reality of the unreality of the virtual world into reality on your laptop….if you see what I mean.

Either way its now possible using Google Maps to tour the street without having to go there. Not the real thing of course (ahem…) but nevertheless a great trip for the armchair enthusiasts among us. Type into Google Maps “Diagon Alley”, hit the link on the left hand side and you’re in!  (Alternatively click the link to Google maps here!). See you there, unless you are wearing an invisibility cloak of course.