Apple filed for three patents this week that give will give you a feel where they are going with the next evolution of iPhone Application. The patents are described in this weeks Mashable and there are three features that will be really fantastic.
The first allows you to take a picture of a building, statue, or mountain and the iPhone will automatically give you detailed information about the location. The information could come from Wikipedia, Google, or even recorded audio/video. This will be a great way to support a walking tour of a historic location or get recomendation for a restaurant.
The second is similar, but you are able to take pictures of people and it will use facial recognition to find information about that person. Obviously the person would need to have information and pictures of them on the Web, but this type of information is going to be more and more available. I am sure the people will also start complaining about privacy, but basically we are just going to need to get used to it. This technology is here and there is probably not a lot we can do about it.
The third is the ability to convert voicemails to text. This is getting very available with companies like Jott, GotVoice, and Simulscribe, but with Google's new Google Voice this is going to be a business critical feature. Apple is clearly feeling the heat.
These are great services and you can expect a lot more. Most of us use tools like Shazam to listen to music and determine what song is playing and then serve up information and buying opportunities. There are similar iPhone applications that allow you to take a picture of a book, CD, DVD, or wine bottle and do the same thing.
This type of "augmented reality" is going to become very popular and the solutions that are going to come out of it are going to be amazing. I can't wait and I am looking forward to a new level of "cool".
If you want to read more about Augmented Reality, I suggest you read Ray Kurzweil's book "Age of a Spiritual Machine". There is a great description of where this is all going.