By Brett Bartlett on Wed, 10/24/2012
Two weeks ago, Jeff Niles asked me whether my app development company would be interested in helping him propose to his now-fiancée (congratulations, Jeff and Diana!) as the two of them flew over the Statue of Liberty in a helicopter. No, we didn’t assist with the actual flying part—that feature is sadly absent from iOS 6. What we did contribute: A Push notification in our New York Travel Guide app, triggered by proximity to Liberty Island (and a few other tricks my developers had up their sleeves).
Having just recently become engaged myself, I somewhat absent mindedly agreed to help Jeff out before actually considering what this undertaking would entail. The concept was simply too incredible to pass up. In my mind, a Hollywood romance film played out before the conversation had even ended. Special cameo of our travel app included. Spot lights accentuating the gleaming couple flying over Lady Liberty, with their iPhone nestled between them. For tech geeks like myself, it was the ultimate proposal scenario.
Moments after the conversation, though, as I briefed my team, reality began sinking in. We had just 48 hours to brainstorm, design, and integrate the proposal into the New York City Travel Guide - Peter Pauper Press Interactive (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/new-york-travel-guide-peter/id531863067?...) or the entire concept would fail. I couldn't let that happen and was willing to do all I could to make this proposal a success. Fortunately for Jeff and I, my team didn't mind a few sleepless nights either, and took on the assignment as if it were their own engagement opportunity. The stressed looks on their faces proved as evidence.
Fortunately for all involved, a week later our special app update went live in iTunes, with only minutes to spare. At 6:40 PM Eastern Time, over the skies of New York City, the entire scenario panned out just as I envisioned ... minus the couple nestling with iPhone. But one can always dream :)
Aside from being a beautifully romantic display, this event proved mobile technology has become so deeply intertwined with the way we live our lives, we would be lost without it. Or at least I would be lost without it. A day without my iPhone, INCONCEIVABLE! (Pun to The Princess Bride intended)
In 2009, AT&T coined the infamous phrase "There's an app for that!" in their television commercial for the iPhone. At the time it seemed like the 18,000 active apps in iTunes could help us do nearly every daily task one could imagine. Find your car, check snow conditions or even count calories. A revolution was taking place which pushed the limits of what we thought was possible and acceptable. Considering that in 1990 cell phones could only call. In 1995, users could call and text. In 2000, users could call, text and send images. In 2005, users could call, text, send images and check their email. The progression of mobile technology and level of intimacy we began developing with our devices was simply staggering.
Today, there are nearly 700,000 active apps in iTunes (we just added two more to the iTunes queue) and the realm of what we find acceptable to do with our mobile devices continues to grow. Three years ago, we were thrilled to be able to find our car with an app. Today, user demand more and are comfortable doing things as intimate as plotting a wedding proposal. Three years from now, just imagine what social limits we may redefine!