Friday, May 11, 2012

Mobile semantic apps - where are they?

I have begun collecting a list of mobile semantic applications that are available for the iOS and Android platforms. It is on a separate page on this blog. Please suggest any apps I may have missed.

The point of the list is to make a catalog of actual, usable, "sell-able" applications that exist, to see what they do, and to try and describe how they use semantics.

One problem with finding such a list is that not all semantic applications advertise this openly. Siri for example does not mention the word in its description. Conversely, there may be applications which claim to be semantic, but which actually do little more than key word extraction, for example.

It seems to me that a "good" mobile semantic application should have at least these properties:
  • The semantics should help rather than hinder the user. The app should not simply present 100 possible links for the user to follow.
  • The application should present some clear advantages over non semantic versions. It should be able to do some clever and useful things that simply cannot be done by competing apps of similar functionality, without semantics. The semantics should make it the go to app in its domain.
  • It should be usable. Nobody (almost nobody) wants to type SPARQL queries into a 4 inch touchscreen! 
  • The semantics should be non trivial. This is probably the hardest one to defend, but I'll give an example of what I have in mind. In the past I have seen research in which linking a keyword (for example) to a DBPedia (Wikipedia) article was considered to be "semantics". But Google maps links locations to Wikipedia entries, yet I wouldn't say Google maps is a semantic app.
Sadly, my survey as of May 12, 2012 does not contain many applications that fulfill these properties. Let's hope the list grows quickly, and well.