Yelp Augments Your Reality

Yelp logo.Yelp updated its iPhone app this week and included one very cool easter egg. If you haven’t already, download the update, open your Yelp app, and shake your phone three times. You should get a message telling you that “Monocle” has been activated and can be accessed in the top-right corner of your screen.

So what is Monocle? It’s augmented reality for Yelp. Hitting the monocle button takes you to what looks like the camera application with a Yelp overlay. A compass in the top right corner displays local establishments with a Yelp presence. Rotate your phone to the right spot and you’ll see a little Yelp shortcut card with the name of the establishment. The card scales based on how far away you are, so the biggest cards are closest and the smallest the furthest away. It’s a neat feature, particularly if you’ve just moved somewhere new.

There is one problem, though – augmented reality apps weren’t meant to be released until iPhone OS 3.1. That’s what Apple asked of its developers, anyway. Personally, I appreciate Yelp’s noncompliance, but there are others who think it’s going to hurt the development community. What say you? Sound off in the comments.


China Unicom iPhone Deal Is Official

iPhone on its way to China.China Unciom issued a statement today confirming the release of a Chinese model of the iPhone. The deal has been in rumors and unofficial news stories for some time now, but the companies actually involved are confirming the story this time around.

In a deal that would bring the iPhone to 141 million users, China Unicom will buy their phones from Apple wholesale. That means no crazy revenue sharing deal like Apple initially inked with AT&T and several European partners.

It also looks like China Unicom won’t be getting the 3GS but the 3G in several models (probably storage capacities). One big question is whether or not the devices will come Wi-Fi enabled as they do in the rest of the world. Everyone knows China has some crazy restrictions regarding internet use. Neither China Unicom nor Apple will confirm the specs of the Chinese models.


Facebook 3.0 Is Live

Facebook 3.0 for the iPhone.Facebook developer Joe Hewitt can finally rest easy knowing that his app is approved and in public hands. It certainly took long enough. Hewitt posted his submission on his Twitter page a couple weeks back. He made a blog post earlier this week decrying the App Store for its lengthy and often arbitrary approval process. Well the app is finally out, and it’s pretty great.

The update brings a whole list of new features along and gives the software a makeover. The new interface is much more direct, which is something I really appreciate. I probably say it too much, but I don’t really like Facebook, so making my user experience quick and to the point is fantastic.

I also like that I can manage events from the new app. I mentioned yesterday that I prefer an uncluttered digital experience and this is just one more thing I can manage on the go. As always, the app is free for download.


Facebook Should Reconsider Friend Requests

Jesus wants to be your friend.I’m not secretive about the fact that I don’t like Facebook. I’ve mentioned in other posts that I don’t need daily updates from people I haven’t seen in years. The simple solution is to just not friend those folks, but some of them are incredibly persistent, sending requests four or five times before I cave.

Facebook posted a reminder on its blog this week to remind users that we have methods for dealing with these problems. If you don’t want to friend someone, press the ignore button. They’re never notified. You could also friend the person, let him read your profile, and then unfriend, in which case the person again won’t be notified. If you’re in my situation, though, you have just one recourse. You leave the friend request pending. In that way you never have to deal with the request again.

But I hate that solution. Hate it. I don’t like cluttered message systems, and there’s really no reason Facebook couldn’t implement a simple ignore system, as in, ignore this request and all future requests from this individual. It’s similar to blocking people, which the site allows you to do, just built into the friend request system, making it much easier to manage.

The fact that Facebook saw fit to remind users of these features suggests the site may be getting some negative feedback, and for good reason. Facebook beat MySpace by offering better privacy features, so why not this? Why must I subject myself to the hoard of messages people send to entire friend lists?


Analysts Say No iPad In September

The Apple iPAD?Despite all the rumors flying about an impending Apple tablet release, analysts don’t expect we’ll see one at the glamorous September Apple event. Instead, you should be looking for an iPod Touch/Nano refresh that includes cameras for both models and possibly a video cam on the new iPod Touch, bringing the flagship mp3 player in line with the iPhone.

The Apple tablet rumor got a whole lot bigger back when Borders posted a survey regarding ereaders that referenced an Apple device. Since then it’s been a lot of speculation, but nothing truly official has surfaced. The camera rumor, on the other hand, has more substantial evidence. There are countless cases with camera ports all in the same place, along with insider info that the cam is coming. I’d say it’s definitely a safer bet.

There’s also the nature of a tablet release for Apple. It has to be good. It has to be really good. The netbook craze is already starting to decline as the models get stuffed with more and more features and look more and more like actual notebooks. Convincing the world to reconsider what is essentially an MID will take an exceptional product, and that’s something Apple may not be ready to roll out by September.