Monthly Archives: September 2011

Crittercism is a Support Infrastructure for Mobile Apps

When mobile applications crash, it is critical for developers to be aware of the problem so that they are able to get to work on a remedy. Providing feedback, however, can be difficult for users, causing developers to miss out on important information. Crittercism has developed a solution that provides a vehicle for feedback as well as a wealth of additional information to help developers keep their apps running smoothly.

“We developed an SDK that developers drop in their app, and either as a tab or a button you select it [and] up comes our support form where a list of bugs, questions or ideas appear,” explains Andrew Levy, Co-founder and CEO of Crittercism. “You can see what the most popular questions are or what the biggest issues are that developers are working on. We’ve really found that most of the bad reviews in app stores are just support requests, so we’re helping you talk with the developer, and they can actually respond.”

The Crittercism dashboard is full of information for developers. It lists real-time crashes, provides charts that detail the percentage of users for each device that are experiencing a particular problem, and shows users that are loading your app.

“It’s not just about letting users submit their frustrations in the app,” says Levy. “It’s also about gathering the right data, the right diagnostics to help the developer really figure out what the problem is with the app.”

In case the problem lies not in the app itself but in the network, Crittercism also tracks problems with your network usage, Wi-Fi and 3G. Developers can leave breadcrumbs and ping Crittercism servers whenever there’s an issue, allowing them to identify which specific service is causing the problem. Crittercism is also adding support for better handling of background threats that don’t necessarily cause the app to crash but still cause problems.

“We’ve been built for mobile from the ground up…[and] there’s really no one presenting the package that we have,” explains Levy. “Not only are we gathering crash data, but we’re also gathering data that users submit—bugs or questions. We don’t see those as two distinct things. We want to, as much as possible, be able to match crash data with what users are reporting out in the field, and that’s really important to help you figure out what’s going on and then finally tell the users, ‘Hey, we fixed this issue.’”

Join our lively Google+ discussion about Crittercism to find out how the application is being used by others!

Reprinted with permission from Building 43.

Washington Post New Social Reader

Wow. I love this new “social reader” from the Washington Post.

Don Graham, chairman of the Washington Post company (damn smart guy who has seen a TON in the publishing world) and I talk about this.

We talk about porn, too. “I wouldn’t use this app for that,” he says.

Really interesting insights into why these IDENTITY ENGINES are going to change everything.

And if you think that Google won’t do this I have a nice bridge to sell you in San Francisco (Google is working on a new reader like this code-named “Propeller.”)

You gotta be on Facebook to try this out! Join our Google+ discussion to share your thoughts on the direction traditional media companies should take to guide themselves into the future.

Singboard Brings Karaoke to the Internet

Ray Chan, Co-Founder and CEO of Singboard, and his partners arrived at 500 Startups with an idea for a photo-sharing app. After initial feedback for the app was luke warm, however, things changed drastically. Based on the fact that, according to Chan, karaoke bars in the U.S. paled in comparison to their native Hong Kong, the team regrouped, came up with a new idea and Singboard was born.

“Basically, Singboard is where YouTube meets karaoke,” says Chan. “It is a much more improved experience of online karaoke…We will get all the latest and most popular music videos from YouTube, and we will overlay the lyrics on top of the videos, and the lyrics will provide a karaoke-like feature, so that you can sing along with it and enjoy a really good singing experience.”

Singboard’s technology streams different content at the same time, allowing you to turn off the vocals on a video and play just the music. You can choose from among the top 100 music videos on YouTube, and, because the service is on your computer as opposed to on a machine in a bar, you can stop, rewind and replay songs as often as you like. You can even record your own version of a song and share it with friends on Facebook or Twitter.

Singboard will likely be offered to users based on the freemium model, where you can play a certain number of songs for free but will have to pay a monthly subscription fee for unlimited access. The app is currently in private beta, but Chan says they are pleased with the initial response.

“So far the feedback is really positive,” says Chan. “People just want to have more songs so that they can find their favorite songs to sing.”

Are you a Karaoke junkie? Join our Google+ discussion to share your best stories.

Evri Jumps into the Tablet News Fray

Evri has another news reader. But this one has some seriously cool technology underneath. Here CEO Will Hunsinger gives us a bunch of reasons why its technology is better.

I’m loving this fight between a group of Flipboard competitors. Should Flipboard be scared? Yes – eventually one of these will figure out something much better than it’s doing and Evri has been working on news semantic databases for years, so this is a very good effort.

What are your thoughts thus far on the various news-aggregation tablet apps? Which are you using, and why do you feel it’s the best? Join our Google+ discussion to share your ideas and comments.

Two apps that show the depth of what Facebook shipped today

Mark Zuckerberg

Today Mark Zuckerberg announced a sweeping set of changes to Facebook. If you, for some weird reason, weren’t aware of the changes there’s LOTS of press coverage over on Techmeme. So, instead of rehashing that, I thought I’d go and talk with developers.

Here’s the insights from them. What are they? Color (a new kind of life-sharing app for mobile phones) and Social Reader (a new kind of social news reader from the Washington Post).

First, a look at Color. Yes, this is the app that was Silicon Valley’s biggest startup “failure” in quite a while. But here it’s back and back in a HUGE way. I really am having fun with this app, which is totally integrated into Facebook and does a lot more than the old version (live video, for instance). Really amazing. Sign up for the beta at http://www.color.com/

Note how they are using Facebook’s platform to hold ALL data. This is a new move for Silicon Valley startups.

Now, let’s look at the Social Reader, from Washington Post. This is a web-based app that sits entirely in Facebook. Now you can see what your friends are reading (and they can see what you are reading). Try that at https://apps.facebook.com/wpsocialreader/

This is most cool.

These two apps show how EVERYTHING in your life will be touched by social technologies. Great stuff.

Zite Brings Personalized News Content to the iPad

Recently CNN bought Zite. Here we talk with Zite’s CEO, to find out what’s going on in this hot category and how Zite differs from the other players in the field.

There are a host of different applications that are available to help us organize and consume the content we receive on our mobile devices. Zite is one such product, and it’s quickly becoming one of the hottest and most talked about apps on the market.

“One thing that people don’t know about Zite,” explains Mark Johnson, CEO of Zite, “is that we’re almost six years old as a company, so we’ve been developing technology for all this time…so it turns out there’s a lot of great technology under the hood that allows us to figure out exactly the kinds of things you like to read and give you more of it. I think that in this world of news clutter, people don’t just want another app that’s a veneer over the RSS feeds that they’ve had in the past. They want something that is really tailored towards them.”

Zite, currently available for the iPad, personalizes the news you receive in a number of different ways. It can tap into your Google Reader or Twitter feed to see the links you and your friends share. It can display articles based on the subjects you choose from over 5,000 categories. You can give each article a thumbs up or thumbs down. And you can click on key words within articles to indicate a preference to receive more content with a similar subject matter. Each time you read an article on Zite, it learns more about your interests.

“One of the things I like to do every week,” says Johnson, “is I add a new topic on Zite that I don’t know anything about…It’s just fun to pick something that’s current and say, ‘Huh, I’m going to learn something new.’ It’s sort of like your search vs. sift thing. It’s like, ‘show me an interesting stream of information about topic X.’ That’s much different than just seeing a few web results.”

Whereas the offline world uses human editors to determine which news items are most important and deserve the most prominent placement, Zite uses algorithms that take into account your preferences as well as the buzz around each story to create the layout of pages. The more you use the app, the more customized it becomes, but Zite hopes it will prove useful right from the beginning.

“When a person first comes into the application,” explains Johnson, “you want to give them a really interesting stream of information. So one of the most important things we do at Zite is to determine the interestingness of an article and what category it falls into, so even if you’ve never personalized Zite before and we don’t know a thing about you, if you choose something like art or architecture, we should be able to give you lots of interesting articles that will allow you to start interacting with the system so we learn the kinds of things that you like.”

This article and video were printed with permission from Building 43.

Join our Zite discussion on Google+!