Tag Archives: Technology

The Google+ App for Android (& iPhone)

Google+ on Mobile
Google+ on Mobile

Previously you would have had to ask an Android user just how good Google+ can be on mobile, at least until the iOS version was released today. The mobile experience is, in my opinion, the most compelling reason that Google+ will build a userbase. As good as the the mobile site is, the app Google released for Android handsets and the iPhone is light years ahead of both the mobile site and its competition.

Facebook versus Google+

Google+'s mobile features
Google+'s mobile features

The Facebook app for Android does not look good next to the one for Google+, and is barely usable in most situations. Unlike the Facebook app, Google+ starts fast and is easy to navigate through. Both apps start on a screen of buttons, linking to the app’s functions, but Facebook also tries to display recent photos from your stream, which in some situations kills performance and gets in the way of doing whatever task I opened it for in the first place. I can’t say that Google+ has replaced Facebook for me on my phone, because I stopped using Facebook on mobile ages ago. It really was that bad.

Living with Google+

Image, location and text updates
Image, location and text updates

Basic activities such as posting updates, images and locations are integrated and painless, though there is no option to attach links, even using contextual sharing through the phone’s browser. Selecting the Circles to share the post with is simple, and managing them through the app is easy.

Life Through a Lens List Circle

Circles are cool.  They are a great way to manage who you talk to and separate people into discrete groups by relationship, interests, location and hair colour, and keep these groups up-to-date as circumstances change. However, no-one is ever actually going to do this as the time needed grows with the size of one’s social network, and those that try will go mad, or give up.

I only ever seem to use just two of the Circles I’ve created: everyone I’m connected to on Google+, and everyone except those that post too much. It is the second Circle I spend all my time in, which is why it’s frustrating when Google+ defaults to the unfiltered stream, and even more so on mobile.

Google+ supports lots of text, images, videos and comments, and the number of updates per pageview is low, especially on mobile. Consequently, noise management on Google+ is important, maybe even more so than on other platforms like Twitter.

All Circles or your own?
All Circles or your own?

In the Google+ mobile app the stream has three default views: Nearby, All Circles and Incoming. Nearby is for public posts near where you are, Incoming is for people who are not in your Circles but who are following you, and All Circles is for all of your Circles.

The app lets you swipe from one to other, which in itself is cool, and you can add additional Circles to these three as well. But it will always open on All Circles. This is very annoying, especially when my 3G decides the year is 1999 and it therefore doesn’t exist.

Ideally Google+ also needs to allow its users to create Circles based on who isn’t being followed rather than who is. It would be even cooler if you could create Circles based on which Circles to exclude. A ‘Stream’ minus ‘Noisy People’ Circle would be cool, as would ‘People I’ve Met’ minus ‘Work People’.

You could of course set up a Circle including everyone except the noisy people, and this would be a good idea too, assuming you are only connected to 20 people. Circles managed by inclusion really don’t look like they will scale well.

And of course, Google+ still needs to let the user decide what they want their default stream to be.

Group Messaging via Huddles

There is only one thing that might make it worth micro-managing Circles: Huddle. Google+’s group messaging feature is actually a good reason to go to the effort of creating and curating small Circles of people who occupy a very specific part of your life, just so you can message them as a group. From your phone. Easily.

TL;DR

  • It is better than the Facebook app. By lots.
  • The app is stripped down compared to the desktop version, and does not include Hangouts or Sparks, but does include Huddle.
  • Circles sound cool, until you try to manage them over time.
  • Not being able to choose a particular Circle as your default stream is annoying.

Epresso for Buying Espresso Online

Epresso for buying coffee online
Epresso for buying coffee online

For me Wednesday is the worst day for buying coffee on the way to work. It is the day I usually run out of change entirely, or struggle to find enough small change for a takeaway coffee.

This is why Epresso sounds like such an awesome idea. Epresso is a service where the users set up a prepaid account, and top it up online, which lets them order coffee online, from either a computer or smartphone.

With this service, the customers pay for coffee without cash, and without slowing down service at the cafe. By ordering before they arrive, their coffee will already be waiting once they get to the cafe. The business won’t miss sales because the customer has no cash.

The idea is very simple, and solves a small, but persistent and annoying problem, and that is why I can easily see myself using this, given half a chance.

TL;DR

  • Pre-order and pay for coffee using the Internet
  • Not having change is not a problem
  • Saves time for cafes and customers

Diaspora, Disrupting Social Media & Delivering T-Shirts

The Diaspora T-Shirt
The Diaspora T-Shirt

When you only have ten invites for a new social network, to whom on Earth do you give them? It is an interesting question, and in a way, unintentionally similar to another shiny new tech thing, Path, which limits you to 50 connections. This week I got my Diaspora t-shirt, as part of my backer’s rewards. A few days later I also got my Alpha invite. With the 10 invites.

Diaspora is not limiting its users to just 50 connections, or even to just the ten that they give you invites for. Understandably as it is in Alpha, they are limiting scale, at least until things move forward some more. Whatever the reasons, I am still left on the wrong side of the network effect and with the question of whom to give one of the ten invites.

Network Effect as a Bell Curve

Network Effect as a Bell Curve

  1. Populated by purported ‘social media gurus’ or bored IT staff. That’s it.
  2. Early adopters can find their immediate circle of friends.
  3. That guy who made primary school miserable for you wants to become your friend.
  4. Ignoring your coworkers’ friend requests becomes harder to sustain.
  5. Boomers are commenting on their kids’ party photos, thanks to friends tagging them.
  6. Traditional media is reporting on all of those off-colour pages your profile links to, as funny as they were at the time.

Obviously I would want to give them to people I already interact with, and of course I would like to give them to people who would actually use them, but who are they? It is like Google Wave all over again. Not everyone even looked at it after they cemented their geek cred by acquiring an invite.

Diaspora Alpha
Diaspora Alpha

In the Diaspora Alpha, you can manage your updates by groups called ‘Aspects’, post photos and even publicise your own content through Facebook, Twitter and, even more cool, as an RSS feed. Comments on photos and posts are there, as is the ability to reshare posts across aspects after publication. I am interested in seeing if doing this makes all comments visible too, but unfortunately I can’t test that right now.

TL;DR

  • Looks cool
  • Is a pretty good fit
  • Guarantees geek credibility
  • The Diaspora Alpha looks cool too.

Cool Shirt, Cool Search Engine

Blekko T-Shirt
Blekko T-Shirt

I just got a new t-shirt sent to me by Blekko, the new search engine. Blekko has a lof of cool stuff that I have written about on my other blog, at Contoleon.com.

Aside from sending me a really cool new t-shirt, Blekko is cool because it introduces a few new tools in an easy to use format. As cool as the SEO tools are, there are a lot of cool things there just for everyday use. A few of these features are:

  • Being able to create groups called Slashtags and limiting your search to just them. For popular searches that are overcrowded, like blogging or music, this restricts the search to known credible sources, cutting the spam.
  • The ability to edit and manage Slashtags can be shared, making it easier for you to collaborate to create groups of sites that are credible and useful for later use.
  • Searches, including terms and slashtags, can be ordered by relevance or date, making it easy to find the most recently updated content. This search can then be subscribed to as an RSS feed.
  • They also sent me a cool t-shirt, because I emailed them after this post: Blekko’s Launch Rocked: 10 Thoughts.

TL;DR

  • Create Slashtags of sites and other Slashtags, search only them
  • Share editorship of Slashtags to pool knowledge
  • Subscribe to searches as RSS feeds
  • Cool free t-shirt