With over 225,000 apps available in Apple’s App Store and 65,000 apps on Android Market, it’s no wonder some smartphone users feel overwhelmed by the numbers. For now, the different marketplaces for apps offer recommendations, list the most popular downloads and categorize the existing hordes of apps. But there’s a cool new app called ScatterTree that filters apps by location.
ScatterTree took part in LocationWild, a UK-based competition for new location-based apps that took place in June. While it didn’t win first prize, ScatterTree, the brainchild of Alex Covert, based in Columbus, Ohio, came in second with a pretty neat idea.
ScatterTree finds businesses close to a cell phone’s location – within a 200-meter radius – and then recommends apps related to the businesses in the user’s vicinity. So, if you are near a Starbucks coffee store, ScatterTree will recommend a Starbucks-related app for you (such as the Expresso Pro!, an “ordering assistant” you can download for $0.99 to help you, well, order coffee at a Starbucks.)
Covert, who’s in his mid-thirties, got the idea for ScatterTree from being preoccupied with discovering apps when he bought an iPhone a year ago. ScatterTree started out as a Twitter-based application, searching through “tweets” to find the most hyped about apps. Then, one day, Covert happened to be reading about Safari’s (Apple’s Internet browser) ability to use a user’s location, and it didn’t take him long to start tinkering with the technology.
“I thought, what better way to find relevant apps than use your location? If you’re at the doctor’s, you’re already thinking about medical sorts of things, right? If you’re outside a movie theater, you’re probably thinking about movies,” said Covert. So when he heard about the LocationWild competition, Covert decided to re-shape his original version of ScatterTree into a location-based app.
ScatterTree is great at showing business-specific apps, said Covert. If a user is outside a business for which an iPhone app exists, it will most likely show up as a ScatterTree recommendation, but the challenge is to make the service even more relevant and accurate.
“I need to work on the app suggestions for businesses that don’t have an app,” said Covert. “The software uses a business’ genre to find and display apps if that business doesn’t have one, and this formula is hit or miss.”
An aquatic ecologist by day, Covert turns into an “obsessive Internet entrepreneur” by night. He has developed a few small-scale websites, but ScatterTree is his first location-based venture. He plans to keep improving the service and to add versions for other mobile platforms. While currently boasting “not much” traffic, ScatterTree is a pretty crafty take on what a location-based service can look like.