The iPhone’s next update, 3.0, was just unveiled yesterday. For all of you that don’t own iPhones (which includes me), you might very well be wondering how I can connect the progress of a single phone to the advancement of mobile social networking as a whole. I’m going to explain, so try to keep up.
Like it or not, the iPhone boasts the best platform and App store for mobile social media and networking. A couple worthy mentions should go to Google’s G1, and maybe even Samsung for its latest batch of TouchWiz-equipped handsets.
Working from that assumption, I’d point out that iPhone sales have soared recently, even considering the fact that AT&T, a carrier not known for its shining quality, is the only service that can claim the iPhone. The mass adoption of the iPhone coupled with the success of the Apps store is making the iPhone the best platform for real mobile social networking to occur.
As I’ve said so many times before, there’s quite a ways to go before we reach true mobile social networking. But, if you believe as I do that the iPhone will most likely be the platform to boast true mobile social networking, you’ll have to agree that a couple of updates announced yesterday certainly go a good way towards brining true mobile social networking closer.
First up: push notifications. The iPhone (and iPod Touch) will now automatically receive application updates even if the app in question is not running. You might be thinking, “Well, gee, why didn’t they already have that?” A very good question.
Now that apps can receive updates automatically (that is, without a user having to open each individual application, such as Mail, Twitterfon, Loopt, Facebook, MySpace, etc.), users will be alerted of updates to their different social accounts real-time. Being aware is a huge tenet of social networking, and having your apps note updates displayed as they come in without having to update each app individually will help users streamline their online social activity.
Second: maps access inside other apps, and turn-by-turn directions. I consider both of these to be big steps towards advancing mobile social networking. Loopt, perhaps the best mobile social networking aggregator app out there, allows users’ locations to be visible to other Loopt users on a map. What better way to help users connect with each other on-the-go than to provide mapped, turn-by-turn directions to activities or your friends?
Let’s say you’re in the city. Your friend updates her status on Facebook, raving about this band that’s about to play live in a venue across town from you. You aren’t familiar with the quickest way to get there, so you open Loopt and use your current location and your friend’s location to generate turn-by-turn, GPS-rendered directions, which get you there before the second opening band comes on.
I can’t say as to whether the Loopt team has any designs on integrating the functionality I just described, but my point is the technology is there, and it is now possible. Talk about a very real way to bridge your online social presence with your real world social life. THAT is what mobile social networking is about.
Third: data tethering. Yes, that sounds quite lame in comparison to what I’ve detailed above, right? Though I’m all about having everything you need in the palm of your hand, the fact is we just aren’t there yet. Failing those advancements, there’s not much better than whipping out your Macbook wherever you are at and doing some surfing or social networking when you’re out of WiFi range.
If mobile social networking still isn’t quite realized (and I’d say that it certainly isn’t), then why not use your familiar and powerful, computer-based social networking tools wherever you’re at by tethering your iPhone’s data to your laptop? It’s social networking made mobile, is it not? A bit cumbersome, but it fits the description.
There you have it: three updates to the iPhone that will further the cause of mobile social networking.
P.S. – If you weren’t aware, Loopt isn’t just limited to the iPhone…it’s available on the G1 and Blackberrys, just to name a couple prominent handsets.