Archive for the ‘Web’ Category

Foursquare 5.0: Discovery and Recommendation

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

I’ve been using the upgraded version of the foursquare iOS app for the past couple weeks, and have definitely been curious about what it means for foursquare’s overall direction.

There’s more depth within the news feed – before, opening the app simply displayed a list of your friends and their recent checkin. It halfway felt like a news feed, but the checkin was the only data you were presented with. Now, you can see new friendships, tips being left, as well as back-to-back checkins. At first I found this annoying, but after getting used to it, the app feels more dynamic and real-time. The design also now matches the website more closely – especially with font choices.

While there’s obvious value to be had from an enterprise level by looking at everyone’s data on the whole, for me as a user, better recommendations are the most exciting prospect of foursquare’s future. When you look at the “Explore” tab, you’re presented with a stream of potential places. These can range from nearby venues that have a large number of current checkins, venues your friends frequently visit, and venues that fit a certain category (shopping, dinner , etc).

While this is great, I’d love to see even more advanced recommendations that lean heavily on what you’ve done in the past.

For me, the holy grail of foursquare lies in this potential:

Here’s where you’ve been, so based on the time and date, as well as what your friends are doing, here’s the one best thing you should do right now.

They’ve taken a large step in this direction and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

 

 

Google Plus

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

The idea of Google releasing a social network to compete with Facebook has been floating around for a while, but they hit us by surprise with the soft launch of Google Plus. This was also used to facilitate a redesign of other Google products – namely Gmail, Google Search, and the service-wide top bar.

Let’s circle back around later

When first setting up your account, you’re encouraged to set up “circles”: groups of people that you can use to control who sees what. A really cool UI powers the dragging and dropping of people into different circles…it feels familiar, but I can’t quite place it. You can add people to your circles and they can add you to their circles, but the person on the receiving end can’t see which circle they’ve been added to. It took me a while to fully grasp the level of mutualism; in this sense, it’s a lot more like Twitter than Facebook. It’s not zero sum – adding someone to a circle doesn’t require them to do the same with you.

Once circles are set up, entering profile information is pretty straightforward. Integration with your existing Google Profile is nice, and from here on out it’s essentially what would be expected of a standard social network.

Similarity to Facebook

It’s tough to describe functionality without using the word “Facebook”. The core of the app, especially the news feed, is very reminiscent of Facebook, but there are a few differences. With Facebook, segmentation of your friends is a hard-to-find afterthought, but in Plus, it’s one of the first things you do.¬†Collaborative video chats (“Hangouts”) are something that Zuckerberg has yet to fully implement, but¬†that’ll be changing soon, likely as a response to Plus. The user interface, although a little cleaned up, mimics Facebook in many ways, from the layout of a sidebar on the left to the indented format of comments. It almost reminds me of the Microsoft Store to Apple Store comparison.

A lot of things are awesome

Based on search queries and the potential for data collection with +1′ing, Google can have a much better idea of who someone is than Facebook does, and it’d be really cool to see some integration of that into how you’re connected to people. The fact that the Google header follows you around in Gmail, search, maps, etc. is also helpful.

But why could this be better?

Google does have a few advantages in terms of a userbase and ties with existing products, and is definitely better positioned to have a social network. But the timing’s way off. They’re putting up a brand-new silo right next to Facebook, and I’m not sure the segmentation will be a good thing. Photos are especially an issue – the inconvenience could be huge to have some photos on Facebook, some photos on Flickr, and now some photos on Plus.

And although it’s a small problem that’ll likely be taken care of in the future, there’s a significant delay between when you get a notification in Plus and when the email is sent. Not a huge deal, but it does throw you off when getting an email that’s notifying you of something that happened a few hours ago.

The bottom line

It’s a cool webapp. But when it comes down to the sandpaper, they’re not solving a real problem or filling a real need – they’re just trying to keep up with everyone else.

TweetDeck Acquisition

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Ah, yes, another blog post about TweetDeck.

As of yesterday, Twitter’s rumored to go through with a $40-50 million acquisition of TweetDeck.

While this makes sense considering Twitter’s position on having more control over their third-party ecosystem, it’ll be interesting to see how they’ll handle the extreme split in user experience between TweetDeck and Twitter for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. As an idealistic user, I hope they’ll split the two clients into “Twitter for Mac” and “Twitter Pro for Mac”, although it’ll still be pretty disjointed – Twitter for Mac is only for one platform, and TweetDeck runs on both Windows and OS X. Not to mention how Twitter’ll feel about the dependency of Adobe AIR.

The rumor‘s also been thrown around that Twitter made the acquisition simply to shut down TweetDeck. If that ended up going through, that’d show a complete disregard for users, not to mention all the brands that have TweetDeck firmly integrated into their marketing processes. And that’s a pretty hefty purchase for the sole purpose of exercising dictator-like control. Is strict control of the platform really worth upwards of $50M?

Nonetheless, I wouldn’t take a crack at developing the next big Twitter client right now.