New Yahoo! app "sketches" the future of real estate search

As I sat down outside Starbucks for my morning coffee today, I happened to glance over at the newspaper box.

The headline in USA Today screamed at me:

App developers are gearing up for Apple’s iPad

To say the least.

Tech blog GigaOm confirms as much, in a blog post yesterday: “the market for paid tablet apps alone is expected to top $8 billion within just five years.”

We’re on the verge of something big here. But, as the iPad’s shipping date nears, the temptation to succumb to digital fantasy is great.

We’ve already seen the magazine re-imagined and as impressive as this concept is, I think we tend to overshoot in our excitement and sometimes end up missing the little things.

This post is about those little things.

Like revamped todo lists.

Or a digital newspaper that you build yourself.

Or a more natural real estate search interface.

Yahoo’s new Sketch-a-Search application, which launched yesterday, illuminates some pretty cool possibilities. It’s dead simple. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch you can try this for yourself right now.

You just draw a boundary on the map and the app returns results within those borders.

Yahoo Sketch a Search

In this case, it’s local restaurant results and reviews that pop up. But one can immediately see the application to real estate.

Forget clunky polygon search tools. You just draw.

Multi-touch tablets like the iPad, whether made by Apple or others, are going to usher in an a new era of simplicity in computing. An age where fear of technology removes itself as a barrier to adoption. Where the hassle of search is removed from search. Where we get back to a simpler time; when it’s just pointing, gesturing, drawing.

So when we sit down for our morning coffee in the not so distant future, it’ll be with a tablet in our hand. We’ll review our to-dos, catch up on the news and, yes, maybe even sketch out a quick real estate search.