Banking

Smartphone apps that need to be created in 2012

Jack Wallen provides his wish list of mobile applications that he'd like to see brought to life in 2012.

The applications found on the various marketplaces for smartphones have erupted over the last year. If you can't find what you're looking for, chances are it doesn't exist -- that's right, there are applications that don't exist that should.

Here's my wish list of apps that should be created for smartphones in 2012. Some of these apps are pure fantasy, and some of them are ports of already existing applications.

Full backup: There are plenty of apps out there to back up SMS, contacts, phone logs, etc. What I want is an Acronis-like or Clonezilla backup that will create an image of my smartphone. With a tool like this, it would be simple to totally restore your phone (to your defaults, not factory defaults), as well as perform massive smartphone roll outs for a company. Screenshots for Android: Have you ever tried taking screenshots on a non-rooted Android phone? It's not a task for anyone without the patience of a saint and nerves of steel. To be honest, it's a real pain. If you have a rooted phone, this is a no brainer --  but most users aren't rooting their phones. The developers of Android really need to simplify this process. Calendar reminders: There are tons of calendar applications, and so many of them do a lot of things -- but one thing few do well is reminders. What I'd like to see is an integrated calendar that will either place a phone call to you or text you with reminders. And, to take this one step further, I would like to be able to specify the phone number used for those calls/text reminders. Fall detection: This would be awesome. Imagine an app that could sense when a phone was about to fall. It would require some serious work and use of the accelerometer to detect if the phone is in a precarious situation -- and, of course, the app would need to differentiate when the phone is in a purse or a pocket, so that it wasn't always going off. An app like this could possibly help you avoid accidentally dropping your costly handset. User block: I want to block people in every way possible. I want an application that will let me to block a user from calling, emailing, texting, messaging, or contacting me in any way via my smartphone. Allowing a user, with a single configuration option, to completely block an unwanted person on all levels would require full integration with the built-in contacts. QuickBooks: A QuickBooks smartphone client would certainly make things a lot easier for some users. I have a lot of clients that are always on the go and need access to the QuickBooks. Most of them run LogMeIn Ignition and then use their desktops, but from a smartphone, that's not a valid option (due to size constraints). The smartphone QuickBooks app would be a pared-down version of the real deal with basic functionality, so that users could enter and view data. Printing: This one is a challenge, because not all printer manufacturers are creating drivers for printers. But at some point, smartphones will have to build some form of printer functionality into the platform. Yes, you can purchase various applications that add some basic printer functionality to certain printers, but having the ability to print from a smartphone is eventually going to become a necessity. Let's build that into the system so it's well integrated. Claws Mail: I have yet to find a mail app on a smartphone that I like. They are all so limited and clunky. I want Claws Mail ported to Android. I would love to see it also ported to the iPhone, but that's a redundancy that Apple would never allow. Claws Mail is lightweight enough that it could easily fit on the smartphone platform, and it's flexible and powerful enough to appease power email users. Barcode Scanner: I know, I know... these exist. But what I want to be able to do is use a barcode scanner to work with inventory. Have the camera integrate into a barcode scanner that would be able to interact with, say, QuickBooks Point of Sale. You could walk around your shop, scan barcodes, and enter amounts to do inventory. Songbird: Although I hold some disdain for this app (for dropping the Linux version), it would be nice to have a music library application that was cross-platform, full-featured, and could play various file formats. The music players built into most smartphones just aren't powerful enough. And while the developers are at it, an EQ feature would be nice. Thank you. Abiword: I want a good word processor. Not a note taker, a cloud-based Google Docs app, or an MS Office-wanna be. I want a single-minded, easy to use, word processor. The most obvious choice for that is Abiword. Just make sure it doesn't lose the ability to save in various formats -- otherwise, it becomes useless. OpenBravo POS port: I would love to see an Android edition of this tool that would allow the mobile client to easily connect to the server for the selling of goods or services remotely. There are security issues at stake here; but, if done correctly, this could be one heck of a deal maker!

I know that every smartphone owner has their own list of applications they'd love to see created. What about you? What applications are missing from the markets for your mobile device? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

42 comments
octomjbber
octomjbber

Year is almost over, but worth a shot! An app that would "read" anything (book, webpage, etc.) in a non-robotic voice! Turn any written content into pleasant sounding audio content, without sounding like a cyborg. After staring at a screen all day, it would be nice to have that app read your email, the headlines, and a good book!

jovish.edathi
jovish.edathi

I am using QBReflex for accessing QuickBooks on my smart phone. It is a nice app. Really helpful.........

adjaaman
adjaaman

What about Symbian apps. I am not an expert so I need advice. Please help out.

bobmatch
bobmatch

Of course this staying current is the blade for which a developer will live or die upon. We all know this. However, not only do we need to stay current on our present platforms and software, other platforms need to be include in the mix. Lots of specialty software such as PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers) programming, Job Estimating, etc??? Can benefit users from the mobile usefulness of a tablet or phone app. I know myself I would find it great to sit inside my Van and be able to; Estimate, do a change order, do billing, print out a receipt, and take payments. All in the cramp environment behind the steering wheel. While some of this is already there it???s just not all together yet.

mlevils
mlevils

i love the way i made a sync with my palm. I sync my PC with palm because the palm OS call each application to sync and was able to see the data of each application in my PC. In a full (dumb) backup I wont be able to restore my data in other equipment when i want to change to a new one.

allmyregards
allmyregards

maybe this app has already been mentioned but what about an app like the bar code scanner but can scan documents,photos etc of cause through the camera now that would be cool.

wild__bill
wild__bill

many of these apps already exist, some examples: full (image) backup as you described it - like norton ghost, so to speak - get an app called 4EXT from the Android Market - it's $2 and absolutely fabulous! screenshot - an app called Screenshot It - perfect! Yes, both of these example apps require ROOT - as most of the great apps do! People: root your phones and quit pussyfooting around, having a non-rooted phone is like having a Windows computer that you only have a guest account on, rather than full administrator privileges - Go to the XDA website, like over 40 million XDA visitors before you and read up! - Learn what you are doing and then DO IT (or at least have your geeky friend do it for you and pay him well!) - Start controlling your phone rather than being a slave to its silly stock limitations and rules! I promise you will thank me, once you MAN UP and get this done and begin to enjoy all of these apps that you are just WISHING for on this list! http://forum.xda-developers.com/wiki/index.php

garylavery
garylavery

Ever since getting on the Gmail bandwagon I've been screaming for my wife & I to be able to share a common set of contacts. Can't do it in Google Apps either. I don't want to SYNC with Exchange - I want to GET RID OF IT! Abiword? I dumped this for being totally unstable, slow and buggy. I'm hardly a power user (in Word) but this program was could not even perform my minimal needs!

boothby171
boothby171

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: Make the thing sync with OUTLOOK! 1) Sync locally, not through Exchange (obviously: BOTH would be available) 2) Sync wirelessly via Bluetooth 3) Sync Notes and Tasks 4) DO NOT truncate the comments field in Contacts to 256 characters. Gee...that sounds like my old PALM OS! Then...do something about not having the phone start to bitch and moan about memory availability when you're only using 25% of the memory! Then getting my voice-to-text working again (it cuts out while I'm driving--JUST when I really need it!) would be nice. But that's coupled with the whole memory thing, since my Incredible is refusing to accept the update that will supposedly FIX the voice issues... So, it all boils down to: Make the thing a robust, business-ready TOOL, instead of a Kin-style TOY. THEN you can start adding all these bells and whistles. (BTW, the "fall-sensing" feature reminds me of a Monty Python skit where someone had invented a tomato that would automatically eject itself from whatever sandwich it was in, moments before a horrific car accident. Its inventor's last words were, "See! It works!")

dmcdonald
dmcdonald

I have a Moto Droid RAZR, and I love it having come from a Blackberry. However, I don't understand why I can control the notifyer volume for all email accounts except Gmail. What is up with that? I am in a meeting, my volume is down or set to vibrate and a Gmail comes in with a LOUD ping and suddenly I am getting the evil eye for not having my phone truned down! I know this is not a new app, but I sure hope it is resolved in ICS. I do really vote for a full system backup app.

jijucse
jijucse

Scree Shot-- Most of the android 2.3 devices support inbuilt screen capture functionality. No need to install an external application. The shortcut keys varies for different devices. For instance, in Samsung Galaxy, it is holding Back button and pressing home button. The captured image will be saved under Screen Capture folder.

d_baron
d_baron

Full backups--there are, if you root the phone. Fall detector--might be worth a try but how fast can you get to the thing before the fall completes :-) I dumped google's default and use K9 mail. Not perfect but more like my desktop. Screen shots for non-rooted phones? There are, just shake and bake. Abiword? Second that but porting substantial C++ apps to Java and Android SDK is quite problematic, why there is still no Chromium browser. User blocks? There are, even for non-roots but better for roots. I find them cumbersome. Bar codes? Why not? Has anyone noticed that numbers have replaced the bars on more and more packaging?

Julie9009
Julie9009

If you enable it in Google calendar on the web, you have the option to be reminded by SMS (at least here in Australia). If you then use Calengoo on Android and link it to your Gmail account (don't use the built-in calendar), you can select from Pop-up, email or SMS reminder for any event. The SMS reminder is sent by Google.

Boushe
Boushe

I've had the HTC Evo 3D Android phone for some time now, and I have been infinitely happier with the apps available in the Android Market without any issues. As far as a good app for call and text blocking, theres one on the Android Market called Call Guard that has worked perfectly for me. Some of the things that I love about it are the ability to create specific groups of numbers to block as well as blocking numbers from people who for whatever reason try to call you with their number restricted or unknown. As far as an app for Point of Sales, there are a couple different apps on the Android Market that I have used that have both worked very well called PAYware Mobile and AIRCHARGE. The only thing that had to be done at the beginning is I had to make a call to have an account set up

Jim Johnson
Jim Johnson

DITTO!!!! on a full (image) backup!!! I'm an Android user - non-rooted. 7 years ago I was in Europe with my Palm and had to do a hard reset. Luckily it was the last day because I had to wait until I got home to reinstall my apps and data. I learned the hard way and got a good backup tool. Such tools for Android require the user to root the phone. All I can backup is my data. This means if I have to do a hard reset on my Verizon (CDMA) phone in Europe, I'm SOL until I can find a Wi-Fi connection, and I will have to spend a bunch of time reinstalling my apps (and I'd better have the keys for paid apps), customizing them in many cases, then restoring my data. If I have the installer for an image backup app on my SD chip along with an (encrypted) image of the phone, I should be able to fully recover in a few minutes. EVERYBODY seems to assume smartphone/MS Outlook users are using an Exchange server. Well folks, there are a LOT of us with only a LOCAL version of Outlook on our PCs with which we want to sync non-email items to our phones. The PalmOS did a wonderful job with this (a pox on Palm for not releasing 64bit USB drivers). WebOS followed the heard assuming an Exchange server. Yes, I finally found a rather pricey tool to sync with a local, non-Exchange copy of Outlook - but after many updates it is still NO WHERE as smooth as the old Palm Hot-Sync. User Blocks are at the carrier, but I agree rather weak. Verizon will block a number for a max of 90 days.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

After years of procrastination, I finally just made the transition from the old Palm platform (Palm Pilot to Treo 755p) to Android. In many ways, it was a tremendous leap forwards. (Fast processor & Internet, beautiful display, access to cool apps, etc) But in what I always considered the most important ways, I was shocked to discover that I had actually taken a large step backwards! The beauty, magic, & elegance of the old Palm platform was it's ability to sync with your desktop/laptop in a single, simple step. You pushed a button and a minute later, it was all done. Not only was your most critical data where you needed it, but it meant that if you should lose, destroy, or upgrade your device, you easily sync your new one with your desktop/laptop to have all of your apps, data & most settings restored. My daily routine was built around working at my desktop, syncing, leaving, working with my phone, returning home, and syncing. All current data was where I needed it to be all the time and thoroughly backed up. I was shocked to find that on Android, there is no simple way to do this. Not only that, but there is no clear analog to Outlook or the former critical Palm apps that I've totally relied upon for the last 15 years. (Calendar, Contacts, Tasks & Notes) This simply astounded me. How many billion people use Outlook? Yes, there are plenty of apps to handle these functions separately, but they don't sync with the desktop, or if they do, it requires multiple/separate steps to do so. There are "sync" apps out there, but they are usually tied to specific "suites" that I've found deficient on one form or another. After a week, I've yet to find a combination of apps & sync software that does all that I used to be able to do. This is not progress, and I'm shocked that with how many millions of these things that have been sold and with millions of people writing apps that this situation exists. And how many million Quicken users are there out there? I was shocked to find that there was not a Quicken app! On Palm I used [i]Pocket Quicken[/i], which synced effortlessly & flawlessly with Quicken on my desktop. It was vital when travelling. Sure, there are some clunky apps where you can manually copy QIF files back and forth, but that is not a solution. Again, why in this age should I be taking steps backwards? DataViz, where is "Passwords Plus" for Android? Guess I've gotta convert all of that data into something else as well. Yeah, I know that on Android, everything's supposed to sync with Google, but the "cloud" is not everywhere, and not all of us want to be fully dependent upon it. And what happens if I lose this phone or when I choose to upgrade it to even another Android? I've got to start from scratch again? I hope some app developers take notice of this. It was the comprehensive sync function that made the original Palm Pilot and later Treo smartphones successful. I've noticed that most apps are anywhere from free to $5. Well, I wouldn't blink at paying $100 or more for a suite that effortlessly and properly synced with at least Outlook. and provided efficient functionality with the calendar, contacts, task list, and notes within. $100 would be a small price to pay to get back to the functionality I enjoyed with my long-outdated Treo.

pksaha
pksaha

I would like a visual language for writing simple programs which will enable me to monitor webpages/ url sites, partly repond to email automaticlly with personalised replies, or even place orders forme to invest based on my defined algorithms.

rihor
rihor

I would make some complements. For full backups there would be nice to have an incremental backup option, however it's not easy to implement. For Calendar there is already the comability with MS Exchange but despite of many users' need no Shared Calendars' option is supported, even by Microsoft itself, though it's not a big deal to achieve. For a scanner application, I would see a simple OCR option to scan long URLs from a desktop computer rather than copying and pasting them to Android throug an email or another connection. And where is the Internet connection via USB, it is still missing, as well as SD storage to PC without switching off the memory card for Android itself - it was and still is the normal behavior of WMx or WP7.

Fokke Wierda
Fokke Wierda

My unrooted Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc Android smartphone has built-in screenshot functionality. I go to the screen I wish to capture, press the (hardware) power button and then get a menu where I can select to make a screenshot. No app install needed.

tony
tony

.. nice in theory, but what you are asking for is psychic software. In order to prevent a fall, you need to know BEFORE it happens and with enough time to prevent it. An accelerometer can only detect falling AS it happens. Also, what about when it is safe in my pocket and I jump down from somewhere; or descending in a fast lift. Fall detection would only work with an accelerometer if the phone had an airbag that could be inflated i.e. if there is a mitigating action it could take. And as for calendar alarms - Microsoft Exchange with a decent client (Nokia's is one of the best) fulfils that need seamlessly with my desktop. My old E71 also had HP Bluetooth printing - all I needed was a bluetooth dongle in my HP 8500 and when I cam in range I could print out the pictures. Many printers are wireless or on wireless networks - the main problem (to me) seems to be that mobile apps aren't built with print as an option. Where this would be really great is at the airports - I can print out my boarding pass before I leave home/office but mots airlines only allow online checkin within 24 hours of a flight. Thus although I have the means to checkin for the return flight, I usually have no means to print out the boarding pass. Maybe one of the airlines will bite the bullet on this one and provide a "print" app and bluetooth/NFC printers at the airport. I am with you 100% on user block. However, here in the UK, cold calling must by law provide caller ID so those silent calls (when the call centre calls several numbers simultaneously but only connects to the first one) can be identified. Less than 50% of them actually comply with the law - some flout the law by using call centres outside the UK. HOWEVER, you do have the facility to give yourself an equivalent facility on most phones. Goes like this - to block someone, you need to have their number; thus put numbers you want to block into your contacts. Most phones allow you to have different ring tones for different callers (and many allow caller groups). So set up a group "unwanted" and choose a ringtone - create your own ring tone of silence if you really don't want to hear them. About the only difference between this and a real caller block is that they would appear in your call log as an unanswered call. It won't work if the caller suppresses their ID, but nor would a caller block anyway. If you are using Exchange as your email server, then this supports server side rules and you can block emails there so they never reach your phone. Having said all of this, I do agree with you that a simple means to block callers from all contact would be handy, but to be effective, it requires the networks to be part of it so that they can block calls even when the caller witholds ID (because the network knows who is calling still).

rhonin
rhonin

Full MS Office suite for Android. I'm so tired of the current apps that sorta do-it. Include Visio and Project.

keithspragg
keithspragg

I think this should be possible - you could try creating a new Google account, and set both devices to sync contacts with it.

keithspragg
keithspragg

This is the third comment I've seen saying sync with Outlook - I have replied above, with my opinions on moving your data to the cloud, and why that is more efficient in this case. I'm sure you've got a reason, I just can't think of what it could be! :-)

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...since I've got this thing plugged into my desktop the most of the time anyway since battery life is so abysmal and you want to take every opportunity to top-off the battery before leaving with it...

keithspragg
keithspragg

This is a MotoBlur thing as far as I can tell - on my old HTC Desire I could turn the notification sound for emails to silent, but have a different sound on texts. On my new RAZR - not so much. It's an oversight, and I too am hoping they'll fix this in ICS - the options are certainly there in Honeycomb.

keithspragg
keithspragg

I appreciate that it's all the fiddly little settings that are problematic, but if you need to get back to a working device while you're abroad, paying a small fee for internet access abroad and downloading the (ultimately very small) apps that let you work, and syncing up your accounts should get you back working very quickly. As for syncing with Outlook - you could move your data in the cloud first, then sync with the cloud. More reliable, too - since you're not relying on local data that is easy to lose (hard drive crash, anyone?).

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

It's what truly made Palm successful as a platform for the better part of 10 years.

blakjak.au
blakjak.au

Contacts, Calendars, Email, Apps, ALL of this stuff is stored in your google account, when you get a new Android Phone, you tap in your google login and ALL this stuff is restore to your new handset automatically, no plug in, no sync buttons, just login and have an active internet connection. How are people missing this?

tyzerocool
tyzerocool

I posted a comment before, I don't know what happened to it. I am a development consultant for a mobile solution company. We can build this solution together given your experience. We could discuss this further. My email is tyrinjosimen@yahoo.com.

DrDean
DrDean

i wrote an app for the Palm and miss it good apps and would like to help if you take on a project. DrDean@pobox.com

Hazydave
Hazydave

Screen shot is already a standard function in Android 4.0.

Julie9009
Julie9009

To take a screenshot on my unrooted GT-I9000 running Gingerbread 2.3.3, hold the Back button and press the Home button. The screenshot is saved to the ScreenCapture folder in the Gallery. I agree that full backup that doesn't require root would be a VERY welcome feature!

Aikon1953
Aikon1953

You are so right about Blocked calling, we have a web site that you can enter your phone numbers and yet these people still violate this law. I predict that NFC will be a big part of our lifes in the next few years, I was involved with it at Nokia.

rhonin
rhonin

FFVII and FFIX for Android and iOS. :)

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

I've never lost a byte, and I've never been rendered unable to work due to an Internet outage, which happens rather frequently where I live.

keithspragg
keithspragg

Palm hotsync was excellent in a world where we weren't connected, and Wifi didn't exist at a consumer level. Now that data is in the cloud, we don't need to be tied to one particular PC, and thus the HotSync model is not as relevant any more. Just to also point out, I haven't turned on my home comptuer in weeks (I have a tablet and a phone) - so in the HotSync model, I would be weeks out of sync.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

2nd, clearly I am not smart enough or Google doesn't make how this mechanism works very clear to those new to the platform.

keithspragg
keithspragg

I totally agree! I set up my Nokia N73 with sync to google, then when I got my E71, did the same - all my contacts came down. Moved to Android (HTC Desire), and the process was even easier - within 5 mins of buying the device, I was up and running with all my Email, contacts, calendar and all in place. Since then, I've also bought a new Android tablet, and upgraded to a RAZR - again, not more than 5 mins out of the store and each were synced and live. The data resides in the device, and syncs when it gets chance - so if you are using your tablet that day, it's going to update all your other devices instantly if you've got a net connection, or will sync the second you walk through the door as it auto-joins your wifi. Happy to conceed that some companies don't provide Android versions of thier dependable apps (nor iPhone for that matter) - so yes, some of what the OP has written is fair enough; but DEFINTELY off the mark on the sync. Anyone who is depending on LOCAL Outlook as thier primary source (ie POP) could potentially look at using a free Cloud service to aggregate their mail accounts - I learnt this the hard way after I had my computers stolen back in '99. I lost my PDA, my main PC and the PC it was backing up to. I lost access to my mail accounts, and moved to a cloud based soluition then. GMail is pulling all my old accounts in to it, and then lets me sync to the phone, tablet, pc, outlook, etc.

pksaha
pksaha

sent you a personal mail

pksaha
pksaha

Would you like to work on Iphone project too?

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

And when I said that "The Palm HotSync should have been the model to follow", I did not mean that to be limited to a single hard-wired PC. That sync could could be to anywhere; another PC, local storage network, or the cloud via USB, Bluetooth, or WiFi. (I'm currently experimenting with CompanionLink via WiFi for Outlook) I care less about where that sync goes to; I'd just like to be able to do it! The model I was speaking of was the Palm's ability to intelligently sync everything on the device; data, applications, and settings. Totally resetting a device did not imply hours of reloading apps, data, and then tweaking your settings back to the way you wanted them. The very few times I had to "hard reset" my Palm devices, restoration took only a few minutes.