Coolest iPhone App

Here’s a great app from DishPointer, released in August:

Very surreal, this is the next generation satellite finder: Point your iPhone anywhere towards the sky and see all the satellites lined up, on the live video screen! At a glance, you’ll see where the satellite is and whether any trees or buildings are blocking the line of sight. Think of multi-lnb dishes and now you know where to place your dish best. Doing a site survey and setting up a dish is going to be a piece of cake with this app. This is a truly useful augmented reality app for the professional and diy enthusiast alike.

The app uses the gps, accelerometer, and the compass of the new iPhone 3GS. Just move the phone up and down and left and right and the satellite arc will follow the live video on the display. The compass has a bit of a lag though, so when doing quick sideways movements the satellite arc is trying to catch up but then settles to the correct position.

If you’re in the satellite business, you know how valuable this can be. Available now — a steal at $20.

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Location-based Social Networking

What’s getting real  attention at SXSW 2009? Foursquare — this year’s breakout mobile app. TechCrunch, via WaPo:

Before this year’s SXSW event kicked off, a number of bloggers suggested that this year’s breakout hit might be foursquare, a new location-based social application with a gaming twist that was created by the guys behind the now-defunct Dodgeball service. As the ‘interactive’ section of the festival winds down, I think it’s safe to say that foursquare was not the must-have app of SXSW the way Twitter was two years ago. But it had a strong showing, and once I actually figured out which of my friends were using the service (which is more difficult than it sounds), I found foursquare to be an indispensable app during my time here.

foursquare’s primary function is to help you figure out where your friends are. Users frequently ‘check-in’ with the app to update their current location, which is then broadcast to their friends. At this point the service primarily operates from its recently-released iPhone application, though users can also check-in from the foursquare website .

More detail, via Mashable:

Foursquare is essentially a re-envisioning of Dodgeball, Twitter’s precursor and a cult phenomenon until GoogleG left it for dead, and actually hails from one of the guys that worked to build that app. Foursquare, which offers an iPhone app or mobile browser experience, works by letting you tell the app where you are and then lets your friends know where to find you. All you need to do is check-in via SMS (text to 50500) or mobile app.

Using the Foursquare iPhone app, you can automatically check-in and post shouts based on where you are and what you’re doing. You can also find your friends, search venues, earn badges, and add friends.

Since you can add your favorite Twitter friends and auto-post your checkins to Twitter, Foursquare provides a convenient way to connect your Twitter network with your every on-the move activity. You can even allow Foursquare to send your friends DMs when you check-in.

Foursquare is also a game, so each check-in earns you points, with interesting check-ins earning you badges (awards), and the more you check-in the more Foursquare features you can unlock.

We really like Foursquare’s fresh approach to location-based social networking, and definitely hope to see them have more staying power than their Dodgeball predecessor.