Mountain View Voice

- August 27, 2010

Smartphones bump, and share files

by Angela Hey

Will smartphones replace business cards? Mountain View's Bump Technologies (http://bu.mp) enables you to exchange contact information using your smartphone, just like you exchange business cards. With Bump installed on your phone, you can send up to four photos or contacts from your address book to another Bump user. Bump evangelist Sadie Bascom tells me that Release 2, due out later this summer, will enable more photos and contacts to be shared.

Sharing happens when you bump two phones running the Bump app into each other. Each phone sends a message to Bump's cloud server. If it sees two phones close together bumping at the same time it asks the users if they would like to share data. If the users consent, the data is shared.

I shared contacts and pictures between iPhones and between an Android phone and an iPhone. Android version is a release behind the iPhone version. The iPhone version has an additional feature, enabling you to compare contact lists.

When I compared long contact lists on the iPhones, an older first generation iPhone crashed. Its network connection dropped and I suspect it was short of memory. That's not the only reason to upgrade to an iPhone 4 that offers 16 or 32 gigabytes of memory. Another reason is that an app like Bump can run in the background, sending pictures while you're doing another task. Sadie told me that Bump's founders want to make mobile phones more relevant for everyday tasks. Phones are limited when it comes to playing or working with the person next to you. So Bump has made it easy for developers to incorporate their software.

PayPal uses Bump to help people share money by bumping their phones together — most useful if you are sharing restaurant expenses. Bump helps families share pictures on their mobile phones without having to send them to a photo-sharing site like Flickr or Facebook. ABC Family offers an app based on Disney's "Pretty Little Liars." You trade secrets by bumping phones. It's a hot app for teenage girls.

Bump's investors are Sequoia Capital and Y Combinator. Bump was the billionth download from the Apple store when it first came out in April 2009. With developers adding Bump to their apps and the recent iPhone 4 release fueling demand, Bump is expanding from its 14 employees and hiring.

Another company that benefits from the iPhone 4 is Mountain View's Loopt. I've had this app for a while, but never had many friends on it. Many friends have chosen foursquare as their main location app, but with iPhone 4, Loopt gets a second chance. It can run in the background and earn rewards. The Music Reward gives you five free songs. You have to find a bar with a "star" icon by its name. When you check in you get a reward. So now my old iPhone cannot run the new and improved version of Loopt. In fact, as I upgraded my apps, eight of them would not install because they need the new iPhone iOS 4.0. Yet another reason for a new iPhone.

Angela Hey can be reached at amhey@techadvisor.com. Or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amhey.

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