Daily Archives: March 9, 2011

iPhone apps for mealtime: bad behavior ahead!

iPhoning at mealtime

OK, how many apps do we need to communicate our location with services and each other? Let’s see, these are the apps I’m currently using. You can see links to my accounts most of these things on the recently revamped Google Profiles (make sure you update yours, by the way).

1. Long in advance. Plancast, Lanyrd, Google Calendar, TripIt and Tungle.me to tell people I’m heading to SXSW on Friday (or LeWeb in Paris in December). What does that do? Let my everyone know where they can find me and how to get on my schedule.

2. Short in advance. I’m using Ditto to tell people where I’m planning on going. Say on Saturday morning I might say I’m going to the Iron Works for Lunch. What does that do? Lets people near me know where I’ll be in an hour or two, plus restaurants can start sending me offers to convince me to try them, instead of Iron Works. I also use Bizzy to see if I’m really going to the best place possible (or to find somewhere to go) and I check Foursquare and Yelp or Zagat for ideas too. Foursquare’s new recommendations are quite nice, for instance. It shows me which places are most popular with my friends and with Foursquare users overall.

3. Walking in the door. I pull out Gowalla, which checks me in on Foursquare. Or, usually, I just pull out Foursquare. That sends a few signals. First, it lets everyone know I’ve arrived, but it also makes a great history so that I can see where I visited, or use Memolane later on to see that (which just shipped this week). My wife, who is addicted to Facebook, usually checks us in on that service (she tags me so she can check us in together). Finally, other systems like Yelp also do checkins. We also might send a video to our friends on Path or Facebook and if my dinner guest is really interesting I might ask for an interview to post on CinchCast.

4. During the meal. I’ll take a picture of my guests with Instagram, which goes to the new Flipboard (on my iPad) and also Foursquare, among other places. When our meals arrive I’ll pull out Foodspotting and take a picture of each meal and tag it. I might even write a full review on Yelp or add it as an answer to a Quora question.

5. As we are leaving. I’ll “check out” with the new Bizzy and rate the restaurant, which helps other people who are looking for suggestions. I’ll also tweet, while my wife posts a Facebook status update, letting everyone know whether we enjoyed our meal.

Whew.

Do you see the problem with this?

First, this is only something a douchebag geek blogger would do. Yes, I’m guilty.

Second, it’s too many apps. Many of these things could be consolidated into a single app.

Third, these systems are all silos that don’t work together.

Fourth, if you do do all these you’ll get strange looks. One lady at a meal even admonished me when Maryam was in the bathroom “why don’t you just talk with your wife?”

One thing, I’m noticing I’m not the only one staring into phone screens anymore at even fine restaurants. You all are starting to copy my bad behavior.

That’s sad, even though I’m not going to stop because these do bring me lots of utility. Heck, check out my sushi on Foodspotting, or my Memolane, where you see a history of everything I’ve done on social networks.

More bad behavior ahead!

UPDATE: Did you know there’s an app for learning table manners? Now I’ve seen everything!

First look: View.io lets you see news and info about places near you

So, you arrive at SXSW in Austin, you open View on your iPhone, and it shows you what is going on near you. Restaurants people like. News events that are happening right now. Parties that are hot. Things like that. Watch this video and you’ll learn more about how it works from co-founders Felix Chan and Zac Bowling.

Or read the Techcrunch post about it, but I have video of the founders demoing it.

iPad goes enterprise, VMware says (first look at its new “View” app)

VMware just released a new iPad app, named “VMware View.” The new View lets iPad owners use virtual desktops (it lets you use virtual Windows instances that are stored on VMware’s servers elsewhere in your company). With this offering VMware joins Citrix, which has a similar system and iPad app.

In this first look I talk with executives Chris Young, VP and GM of End User Computing, and Tedd Fox, product manager for VMware View.

But what’s more interesting is how strongly they say the iPad is being deployed into enterprises. We talk about what they are learning about deployments of iPads.

With the release of iPad 2 on Friday this trend will get even stronger and these kinds of virtualization apps will get more useful, too, thanks to better projection functionality and also because of the greater speed on that device. Not to mention that the camera will let iPad users join in corporate videoconferencing/Skype calls, etc.

A lot more details about the VMWare app is on the Boche.net site.

Oh, I did also ask about whether they will support different tablet platforms. VMware told me that they will do an Android tablet version probably soon (within months), but others they will wait to see how they do in the marketplace.

How good is Flipboard competitor Zite?

Since Flipboard was named Apple’s favorite iPad app of 2010, lots of startups come along that try to get in on its turf. Tonight one, named Zite, is getting lots of press coverage.

So, how good is it?

Well, for +me+ it actually is better than Flipboard in one sizeable way: it built me a table of contents of different sections automatically after I added my Twitter and Google Reader accounts into it. The sections read: Gadgets, Mac, Programming, Social Media, Technology, Palm, Python, which match the major interests of many of the 32,000 people I’m following on Twitter and the hundreds of feeds I’m following on Google Reader.

It built an attractive magazine and the articles it picked seemed pretty good. I’ve been reading the press on it and it supposedly learns about you as you read and brings you even better content after you use it. In the hour or so that I used it I didn’t see this happening, but that’s probably because it started out with a very good dataset to start with.

OK, that’s what’s good about it compared to Flipboard, but now there’s some massive things it doesn’t do as well.

First, it assumes you are a heavy Twitter or Google Reader user. What if you’re not? My dad, for instance, just joined Twitter. His experience starting out won’t be like mine. In this way Flipboard is a far better designed product because it has ready-made sections that he can choose from without even adding any of his social networks into the product. Things about Fashion, Movies, Sports, and hundreds of other content choices.

That’s a +huge+ difference. Remember, Flipboard has already been featured on Oprah. Most of those users aren’t very heavy users of social networks and if you don’t present them with ready-made curated content they will be lost and won’t figure out what to do.

But there is one other interesting difference too: Flipboard’s fit and finish is FAR superior to Zite’s.

Flipboard caches web pages in the background before you click on them, so when you click they pop up much faster than they did on Zite. It also showed me the original tweet above the article, which I didn’t see with Zite.

Finally, there are tons of little things in Flipboard that just are better done than in Zite. Spin the iPad in both and you’ll see Flipboard actually has very subtle animations that move the page around as it switches between horizontal and vertical. Zite’s just switches without the animation. Now geeks amongst you might say “who cares?” But to me those small fit and finish details show me the care that’s gone into making Flipboard, which is why Apple picked it as its favorite.

Sorry, Zite, not there yet, but nice try!

UPDATE: The Zite app is currently having trouble with scaling up. People are reporting to me on Twitter that the app won’t start and the servers are too busy. This happened on the first few days with Flipboard, too, but Flipboard doesn’t have these scaling problems anymore and Zite app should have been designed with those scaling problems in consideration. Plus it’s 3 a.m. and the San Francisco crowd is sleeping as we’re seeing these problems. If you can’t scale while San Francisco sleeps you haven’t really done a good job there.