Friday, May 7, 2010

Banks turn to iPhone virtual reality apps

While financial realities are causing havoc on the world’s stock markets, Australian banks have turned to Virtual Reality applications to fight over domestic retail clients. The Commonwealth Bank, Australia’s biggest home lender, has teamed up with and and released Augmented Reality app for iPhone to, quote, “help Australians make an informed decision when it comes to making their biggest financial commitment”.

CBA media release reads: “The core functionality of the application utilises augmented reality where rich data including past sales history (on more than 95 per cent of properties in Australia), current property listings and recent sales, is mapped on to a real world view through the iPhone’s camera.”

“Users can also switch to a list or bird’s eye view to pull in insights on properties matching their search criteria. Home hunters can then track their ‘dream house’ in their favourites, send to a friend and make informed decisions with access to detailed suburb profiles revealing demographics, median price, property hotspots and capital growth trends.”

Application will be available for free download from iPhone store within a week or so. Android version apparently in the pipeline.

But CBA is not the first to the market. St. George bank released its application, The Housefinder App - developed by Insqribe – a few days earlier. And it is already available for free download from Apple's iTunes or iPhone App store.

"With this new App, you can point the camera on your iPhone at a house or apartment in which you are interested and the screen will display current for sale or rental information, as well as data on what nearby properties have sold for recently."

"The App also lets you search for properties available for sale or rent by suburb, or by your current location, using your iPhone's GPS technology. You can even filter your search based on price range, property type, recent sales information and suburb. All the essential property details are available at your fingertips including the contact details of the real-estate agent."

"In addition to property listing and previous sale information, Housefinder can map St.George Bank branch locations and connect customers to a St.George home lending expert,"

Housefinder's augmented reality function is supported on Apple iPhone 3GS devices. The App uses Google Maps view on earlier versions of the iPhone.

Update: 9/10/2010
ANZ Bank has joined other major banks and released its own property search application for iPhone called ANZ Property Tracker. It is a fully featured app with maps and comprehensive listings provided by Domain and Australian Property Monitors. Key features mentioned by users include: ability to make notes about visited properties, view the last sales price of properties for free, share properties of interest with family and friends via Twitter or Facebook and use a diary function for organising open for inspections and auction dates (times and reminder alerts).

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