Six innovative mobile apps to keep your eye on [LeWeb]

Here are six mobile apps that are making waves right now — some are really well known and have been around for a while, others are brand new and hot. At the LeWeb conference in Paris, fast-becoming one of the hottest web tickets outside the US, we got a bit more insight into them:

1. Uber – your private driver
Uber is the taxi of the future, all governed via slick iPhone and Android apps. It’s a company that has received US$32-million in funding and attracted investors that include Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Goldman Sachs.

Via Uber’s app you can see where the cars are on a map in relation to you, and at a click of a button get an Uber car to pick you up and take you to a destination. Memeburn tried it this morning. Within 10 minutes we summoned an Uber driver, and we were taken to the LeWeb conference in a very comfortable, very good-looking Mercedes Benz. We could also watch as the driver made his way to us and were able to time our exit from the hotel perfectly.

The co-founder and CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, says that this is a premium travel product. Users will pay a 50-70% premium over ordinary taxis. He claims “demand is going through the roof” and that the company is now rolling out in Paris with 60 cars, its first city outside the US. Uber is planning to target 25 more cities outside the US in the coming months.

2. SoundTracking — Share the soundtrack to your life!
Steve Jang, Co-Founder & CEO of SoundTracking, was interviewed by MG Siegler of Techcrunch and CrunchFund. SoundTracking is an app that does “social music tracking” — letting users instantly recognise songs, search for songs and share them on the major social networks. Jang says the service has grown to “millions of users” and is one of the most shared services on FourSquare and Twitter. It’s only an iPhone app right now, but there are plans to launch a native Android app.

For the first time, full versions of any SoundTracked songs shared using the Android App can also be played on Spotify or RDIO in real time, providing a deeper, richer music discovery experience suited for the Android environment — and taking advantage of many of the functions found in a wide range of Android mobile devices.

3. Path — the private social network
Everyone knows Dave Morin. He was one of the original Facebook members and co-inventor of Facebook Connect. He is now co-founder of an app that could possibly be described as the opposite of Facebook… in fact it is a bit anti-social. He runs Path, a modern, and very private journal, where a user can record their day-to-day life experiences, their private and mundane (and important) details on an app. It’s not completely anti-social though. Users can share their information with a close, trusted network (such as their family), or the wider social networks out there. The choice is yours. As Morin says “we dont think there is a place like that on the internet yet”.

Morin spoke about how much harder it was to build products in the mobile app environment. You have to be more patient and the challenge was to achieve “simplicity”. It’s unlike the web where developers can constantly iterate. Morin has raised about US$8.5-million since last January and the company employs about 20 people.

4. Flipboard — a print philosophy in digital
Mike McCue, is the CEO of Flipboard. He has done something that few people have managed to do. He has raised more than US$60-million for a single app. Yes, just one app. It’s no ordinary app though… it’s Flipboard, the app that aggregates social media to provide a beautiful magazine-like experience. Flipboard is now not only an iPad app. An iPhone app has now recently been launched, featuring vertical scrolling and the beautiful photos and text integration that FlipBoard does so well.

What’s interesting about McCue is that he is an old webby. He comes from the Netscape era, yet preaches about “bringing the aesthetic qualities of print to online media”. It has frustrated him, he says, that websites have not looked as good as their magazine counterparts.

McCue claims that Flipboard is on about 10% of all iPads… that’s about 4.5-million of the 45-million or so iPads out there. The company’s recently launched iPhone app is the culmination of years of agonising and testing. He says Flipboard has already seen more network usage via its new iPhone app than its iPad apps — so the iPhone app is going to be big. Memeburn will report in more depth on McCue in the next few days.

5. Oink — rating and recommending the stuff inside places
Kevin Rose is one of those early internet innovators. He’s the well-known founder of Digg, the news aggregator launched before the Facebook and Twitter era. It’s a site that has come under increasing pressure in the new social media era and has experienced massive scaling issues in the past.

This year he launched Milk, a company focused on creating mobile applications and sites. The first application to be released was Oink, a tool for ranking real-world items. As Rose says, they do not care too much about the places themselves (that’s for FourSquare and Gowalla), but more like the “items inside those places”. Success for Rose is arriving in a city, and having the app recommend cool stuff to you by like-minded people that you might have not otherwise have found.

Oink was Apple’s app of the week recently and has achieved about 150 000 downloads, claims Rose. Rose says there are 40 000 active users on the site.

6. TaskRabbit — outsource the small, irritating little tasks via your phone
Task Rabbit is one of those typical social-local-mobile apps. It’s the app everyone is talking about right now in Silicon Valley. It’s a ridiculously simple concept — and these are the concepts that often win. It’s a mobile marketplace where people can outsource small tasks in their neighbourhood, such as the washing or finding and booking at a good restaurant.

You, the user, would pay a small fee to the person who offers to do the task you set. The app is beautiful and clever — TaskRabbit’s objective was to limit typing, so users can create tasks by talking into the phone or taking a photo (You can type too). There are nice little touches such being able to take a photo of your credit card to get information into the app (the no typing rule).

Leah Busque, the Founder & Product Officer says the company is planning an “aggressive expansion worldwide in 2012”. Watch out for more on this awesome little app on Memeburn.



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