Friday Flash: Estately nails it, mobile VOWs and a mess of innovation

If you’re like me, you missed Google’s release of a hotel search service a couple weeks back.

It’s OK – some neat features but nothing ground breaking.

But it is a vertical search play from Google. That’s worth noting even though they pulled out of real estate earlier this year. For now.

Estately, the Seattle-based online brokerage, released a search by school boundary feature that’s insanely good.

It’s not a school district boundary search – lots of sites offer that. Estately lets me search for homes, for example, within the attendance boundary of Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland, CA, down to the side of the street where the boundary ends.

School boundary is an important search parameter for a lot of people. Estately has just nailed it (along with a lot of other things – this is a seriously talented team).

I can think of several companies for which Estately would make a nice acquisition.

Hey, look at this – a site that automatically aggregates photos shot using Instagram about a specific place.

I don’t see a real estate play here. Nope, definitely not.

Redfin updated its iPhone app to offer VOW capabilities. This means registered users can see price histories, notes from Redfin agents who have toured a home (even competitors’ listings) and other stuff not available from a standard IDX site.

It’s nicely done.

The bigger picture here is that you can expect to see more of this. As IDX rules remain frozen beneath the permafrost of MLS policy, companies itching to innovate will go the VOW route. Yes, a VOW requires consumer registration, but there’s value exchanged for that registration (more data).

Seems a little antique, yes, but executed well it can be quite effective.

Google released something called “web intents,” a sort of meta API for the Chrome browser that makes it easier for web applications to interact.

Sounds geeky, but here’s the important thing: Every day, new web services and apps are released that are useful, but unconnected to other useful things you may be using. We’re creating an amazing mess of innovation.

Your contacts database doesn’t connect to your CMA app; your virtual tour account doesn’t connect your Flickr stream, and so on.

Today, a developer can stitch some of these things together with a bunch of APIs. But it takes a lot of time.

This may be the first step toward a more integrated, more useful world of web apps.

Enjoy the weekend!