Want to be able to point your phone at something you see and instantly know more about it? That futuristic vision is fast approaching due to Google Goggles.
In the past, one great advantage to Apple's iPhone app store is that it allowed small developers with innovative ideas to reach an audience that they would have had a hard time attracting on their own. Say what you want about the App Store's developer policies, innovators like Red Laser (http://redlaser.com/) have created some very useful apps that let you do things with a mobile platform that would have been impossible previously.
But if you're an innovator, you have to keep moving or the big guys will catch up. And if you have someone like Google in your market, that's all the more important. Google's foundation comes from innovation and the 20% time policies promote experimentation (ie: the Google holodeck http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/31/video-inside-the-google-holodeck/).>
Now, Google has done it again with Google Goggles (google.com) and built upon a number of pre-existing technologies to come up with a transformative way of using your mobile phone. Just about any device with a camera and a web browser should eventually be able to give you results. No text entry, dialing, or voice navigation required. This technology was announced recently at a Google Search Event and is Android-only for the moment. Which means that users of the HTC Dream, T-Mobile G1, Motorola Droid and others will be getting the jump on iPhone users.
Looking forward, as they refine the algorithms behind this search (and employ crowd-sourcing to boost accuracy like they do with Captchas) I can see this becoming the default input method for many mobile queries.
Now if only my iPhone's camera wasn't so terrible...