I've been reading and listening to a lot of speculation recently regarding Apple's latest acquisitions — PrimeSense and Topsy. While it's fun to speculate on pie-in-the-sky applications of these technologies in potential future products, I feel like the real reasons for Apple purchasing these companies are probably more grounded than expected.
With PrimeSense, there's been a lot of talk about Apple TV, the rumoured Apple Television, and using camera & gesture controls as an input mechanism. While this is clearly a possibility (Xbox Kinect has been doing this since day one), I think there's a more immediate product where this tech could be put to good use: the iPhone's camera.
Watch any iPhone keynote or advert and it's immediately apparent that the camera is one of Apple's top priorities when it comes to improving the iPhone year after year.
Can you imagine if Apple integrated PrimeSense's 3D-sensor technology into the iPhone? 3D panoramas would be pretty cool! We've already got face detection — limb/skeleton detection could help improve auto-focus when snapping pics & video. How about smart-zooming to fit in multiple people when making a FaceTime call (again, just like the Kinect)?
So what about Topsy? Well, it's no secret that the App Store search, rankings, ratings, and reviews are (still) not up to scratch (and developers' attempts to boosttheir rankings seem to be bothering a few people).
In fact, I would hazard a guess andsaythat, since iOS 7 changed the layout of the top charts and search results, less and less people are using the App Store as a discovery tool (outside of the Featured / Editors Picks sections).
Apple could plug the App Store into the Twitter firehose to pick up on app trends as they happen. This could potentiallyboost the rankings of those apps, and even suggest similar / complimentary apps to those users from within the App Store.
It could also prove to be a useful source of data for review/ratings, helping weed out spammy apps with astroturfed reviews but overwhelmingly-negative Twitter chatter.
As with all Apple speculation, though, we may or may not see any of the above in future products. These acquisitions could be solely for the purpose of bringing in new engineering talent. Here's hoping it's the former!