New iPhone app promises to pay you a few bucks here and there to fill out surveys, take photos, and do various other bits of legwork.
Josh LowensohnFormer Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Getting paid to do small tasks has worked out well for Amazon and its Mechanical Turk service. And a new iPhone app called Field Agent is attempting to get similar results using Apple's iPhone.
The service, which is free to use, distributes small chores through a free iPhone app. As the task doer, you can see what jobs are the closest, or just the highest paying. In my test with it, all of these were pricing surveys that required venturing to a local Wal-Mart store to find out the price of bottle of mouthwash. It's not always like that though. Depending on who is doling out the tasks, you could be doing something a little more stimulating, like filling out a survey or double-checking information on a Web site.
For these menial tasks, agents (as they're called), can get paid anywhere from $2 to $8--an amount that is designated by where the job is and what it entails. For instance, taking a photo of something can jack the base price of a task up from $2 to $6.
Once the deed has been done, agents get the money piped into a PayPal account within 48 hours. The client can then leave feedback for the agent's performance. If they did the task, they get a point; and if they didn't they lose a point. Once a user moves up the ranks of other agents, they can then claim a job before people with a lower score.
As for who the clients are, you never actually find out--something that may be troubling for some people. On the flip side, you're only ever doing monetary transactions with Field Agent, which keeps things simple, and arguably more secure.
The one real turnoff to this service at the moment is the lack of jobs--at least in the three different geographical areas I tried. That, and if there were a lot of jobs, you can't sort them by what they entail--like jobs that require you to leave the house, or take photos. Given a larger selection though, and maybe some more inventive uses of the iPhone hardware for job completion, this could be a nice way to earn a buck or two while running errands.