Location-based services I'd like to see on my smartphone and tablet

It's time to see our phones leveraged to make our lives easier. That could be as simple as announcing your presence to businesses when you arrive.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

Adding GPS to smartphones opened them up to all sorts of location-based services (LBS). The promise when the sector took off was how much easier our lives would become with our phones offering different functionality based on knowing where we were. While services like Foursquare are popular, it doesn't add that much value to users.

There are some LBS that could add that missing value to smartphones and even wirelessly connected tablets. If properly implemented they would perform useful tasks for us, beyond just checking us in places to earn badges.

I would like to see my phone check me in for appointments automatically. Imagine arriving for your dental appointment and your phone magically tells the staff you are here. No dinging the bell to get their attention, no waiting in line to sign in on a little form. You arrive and you are checked in.

The same thing could easily be done with doctor appointments. No muss, no fuss.

I currently use my phone to pay for beverages in Starbucks which is a great feature. Why can't my phone tell the Starbucks staff when I arrive and automatically order my usual? That wouldn't be hard to do, it wouldn't intrude on my safety or privacy as an opt-in feature. They could begin making my drink as soon as I pull into a parking space.

Local restaurants have programs that let regular customers sign up for specials. They often include a free meal or treat on your birthday. These would be perfect cases for the automatic checkin. You arrive and the staff knows it even before you hit the door.

They know you are a regular customer, and in the case of your special day they know about it before you even approach the host/hostess. Carry this further and if you pull out your wireless tablet it can offer you the menu for perusal. Once you decide what you want go ahead and order it.

Say you are on the way to a meeting with one of your contacts. Why doesn't your phone ping them when you arrive at the venue? They would know to look for you. Some navigation apps already do this, but rather than have to use those what if your phone did this on its own?

This type of LBS technology is already possible, it just needs to be implemented. The savvy smartphone owner would get a real benefit from it, and it would improve service at the establishments that participate. Everyone would win, with little downside. Of course the user should be able to control this on a per-establishment basis.

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