New apps unveiled at SXSW
Though not the springboard for app developers it once was, SXSW still features new and notable titles for mobile devices.
Every year, the geekiest of geeks make their annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas, for the increasingly hip and increasingly crowded South by Southwest festival.
The event is split into three branches for film, music, and interactive, but we at CNET tend to focus on the last of these, for obvious reasons. SXSWi, as the tech-focused portion of the festival is sometimes called, acts as a sort of gigantic picnic-slash-cocktail-party for tech entrepreneurs, investors, and even regular enthusiasts to mingle at and talk bits and bytes.
And while the sentiment has noticeably tapered off a bit this year, many app developers still feel that it's the right place to try to gain some traction for their mobile creations.
With that in mind, we've rounded up a few of the more noteworthy apps that are on display at SXSW 2013.
ProxToMe (iOS | Android)
Using a proprietary "proximity engine," ProxToMe lets you discover people nearby and easily send them pretty much any digital content with just a few taps. It can work on a one-to-one basis or one-to-many, which could make it a useful tool for a schmooze-heavy event like SXSW. In fact, ProxToMe launched on iOS at the end of February and on Android earlier this week, just in time for the company to make a push with a booth at the festival.
With the new Android version, users get a few features that aren't yet available on iOS, like the power to preview incoming files and delete them directly from the chat view. While we haven't gotten a chance to sit with the app yet, it does appear to have an interesting concept that is worth checking out.
Yappem (iOS |Android)
Launched out of beta on March 4, Yappem helps users to act as brand evangelists for retailers in exchange for gift cards. The app is on display at SXSW this week, and its developers hope to gain some traction with the help of the festival's thousands of app-hungry attendees.
Once users download the free Yappem app, they'll be able to share their daily experiences with brands and businesses across their social networks. They'll do things like share feelings about a brand or ask friends for opinions about a brand's products. All the while, they'll be engaging with the brand and stirring up conversations in social media. In exchange, users will receive rewards in the form of Yappem coins, which can eventually be redeemed for gift cards with Yappem's retail partners. While some may be averse to this sort of incentive-driven brand engagement, there is no question that Yappem's proposition of free gift cards will attract some interest.
Takes is an interesting app that lets you "snap pictures" that are actually short videos, then combines them all together with music for a unique video experience.
It seems like an app that would be great for capturing events, a vacation, or really just about anything. Just as with a camera app, you point your iPhone camera at the subject, then snap the picture. Takes records video from before the snap for a few seconds. Once you've gathered several snaps, you can then put them all together and add music. What results is a unique montage of short video clips captured just before the actual snapped picture.
Takes became available just in time for SXSW and is free from the App Store.
Gravidi is an interactive video app for iPad that shows you an overlay of information about a video as you watch. Launched during SXSW 2013, the app features music videos as well as film trailers for which you can touch onscreen markers to read more about what you're watching.
Gravidi is currently in beta during SXSW, and so there is not a lot of content to look at right now. But if you're at SXSW over the weekend, you can use the app to see featured acts and look at a calendar to find out when you can see them live.
Later, Gravidi will undoubtedly have more content, but this preview of the interface is definitely compelling, and I wonder how the app will be used once the final version is available.
Homesnap Real Estate (iOS)
Homesnap Real Estate is an app that lets you snap a picture of a house to get the price and more info about that house. The app is free in the App Store, but with new social features added in time for SXSW, the download will be an even better value.
Once you snap a picture of a house, the app uses your device's GPS and the MLS (multiple listing service) data used by real estate brokers to identify the house and gives you an estimate of the price, square footage, and other pertinent info.
You can save your housesnaps and browse them later or share them quickly with friends and family. This app seems like a great way to go house hunting, particularly if your significant other is unable to do the footwork with you and you want to show her some of your greatest finds.
Announced at SXSW 2013, one of our favorite streaming-radio services is adding a new feature to give it just a bit more firepower as it goes up against others in its category. Starting today, iHeartRadio.com will get "Add-Ins," which lets users further customize their stations by adding local news, weather, and traffic updates into their stations when listening. Once enabled, the new feature automatically uses your GPS location (or one that you provide manually) to target local news, weather, and traffic information. These updates then play every hour between songs as you listen to custom stations.
Other streaming-radio services like Pandora and Spotify don't offer these types of intermittent news updates. Meanwhile, TuneInradio, another competitor, does offer news and talk radio stations, but it can't sprinkle updates into your music listening the way iHeartRadio's Add-Ins can.
It's important to note that this new feature announced at SXSW is coming only to iHeartRadio's Web-based service for now. But the company does say that it will hit both the iOS and Android apps soon, which is why we are including this announcement in this roundup.
Editors' note: We will be adding more coverage of new apps as they are released.