Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Mobile: Worksnug-iPhone

guardian.co.uk | Mobile workers of the world unite? With Worksnug there is an app for that! | Posted by Mercedes Bunz Friday 20 November 2009

Mobile workers of the world can finally unite, as the neat augmented reality application Worksnug has just been approved by Apple for the iPhone. (...)

Worksnug allows you to find wifi locations available nearby, from Starbucks to independent cafes, to libraries and shared offices, complete with reviews describing the atmosphere, power situation and coffee quality. Just what you might have dreamed about as a mobile worker.

Indeed, for Richard Leyland, the man behind the application, Worksnug is not just about finding the next free wifi hotspot, or being able to boast about the potential of your iPhone in front of your collegues and friends. While both might be appealing, the London-based technology entrepreneur envisaged worksnug as a tool to solve some of the problems of the worker of the 21st century – often isolated, occasionally lonely and highly mobile.

And Leyland knows what he is talking about: "As a mobile worker I spent two years commuting from my kitchen table to Starbucks or the next best library. It worked, but it felt lonely. There is an atomisation of work. We are not employed in big companies anymore, we work for ourselves."

For him, developing Worksnug came directly out of this this experience and was designed as a solution to the challenges of modern working practices. "Over the last 15 or 20 years the way we work has changed tremendously. Work was always an ordered thing, and it's not anymore. In the past, there was a hierarchy, there were certain rules and an office, and we also had a very clear sense of what the job was. All of that has changed. Now, we have the mobile phone, the laptop, the internet.", he says.

"The knowledge-based economy confronts us with a style of work that is new and different. The working situation is a bit like the wild west – there's no guide to tell you when to start or when to stop or where you should work. Worksnug is a small attempt to bring back some order. We want Worksnug users to feel part of a community again."

To produce that feeling of community, the application sets priorities for the sort of locations it identifies. Independent coffee chains, art galleries and libraries are more important than Starbucks, for example. "In Starbucks you are a mobile island," Leyland says. "I wanted to help Worksnug users to be able to meet other people who do what they do."

Users can share their experiences by leaving comments both in the application itself or on the website from early next year. To point them in the right direction a team of reviewers was recruited to assess 700 places in London, where the application has rolled out first. San Francisco is next, with New York, Berlin and Madrid to follow soon. (...)

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