Category Archives: Social

Facebook Apparate

Harry Potter, boy wizardWired: “Facebook Home doesn’t even have to be a hit. At least not right away. The important thing is that it’s out there, and it didn’t require a lot of up-front capital or R&D investment in hardware. It’s a better strategy than anything else the company has done in mobile. People who already really like Facebook will also like this. For people who live in Facebook, it may even drive them to buy one handset over another. Sometimes mediocre is all it takes.”

Whether or not you find Facebook Home mediocre doesn’t really matter. They’re going to sell a metric crap ton of these things. It’s beautifully designed and will give most people what they want; instant, always on, access to Facebook. Brilliant.

The real Communication Network

Matt Gemmell: “The interesting part, though, is what you won’t be used to from Twitter. There are no ads, anywhere. Because it’s a paid service, there’s no spam at all; I’ve certainly never seen any. There’s an active and happy developer community, which ADN actually financially rewards. There’s a rich, modern, relentlessly improved API. And again because it’s a paid service, there’s a commensurately (and vanishingly) low number of Bieber fans, teenagers, illiterates, and sociopaths.”

I joined App.Net back in August and since that time a nice community has sprung up. There are a number of apps available to make the experience better and those numbers grow every day. Unlike Twitter developers are encouraged to develop unique and exciting applications, they even pay for the right to access the API. Imagine that, an entire social where the users actually pay to be a part of it. What a concept.

App.Net is creating the communications platform Twitter abandoned in favor of becoming an advertising company. The Twitter like experience is just one of many different types of applications being built on this platform.

If you’re interested, drop me a line and I’ll pass on an invite for a free account.

Tweetbot: Change is a comin’

Tweetbot RobobirdPaul Haddad, the development half of the Tapbots super duo, tweeted a preview of a change coming to Tweetbot. This is not a surprise to anyone who followed Twitter’s summer weblog post that announced they were going to start enforcing their Display Guidelines Requirements.

Back in August when the updated Twitter Display Requirements were announced I took a look at three popular Twitter clients; Twitterrific, Tweetbot, and Twitter, to see what would have to change to make them compliant with the guidelines. Eliminating the right aligned avatar was one of the changes necessary for Tweetbot to be compliant.

Of all the display requirements I’m very curious to see how all client developers deal with Timelines – Branding(7b). It states

The Twitter logo must always be displayed directly adjacent to the timeline (e.g., top of the timeline).

Emphasis mine. The way I read that “You have to put our logo, in a very prominent place, in your app.”

Twitter for iOS includes the logo in the top bar of the app, which makes sense given the wording of the Branding requirement.

One of the requirements gave developers until March 2013 to comply. We’re just shy of that, guess we’ll see changes soon enough.

Saturday Morning Coffee, Afternoon Edition

My brother, Jay, or rather Jerry as you know him, usually has a piece on his weblog called “Saturday Morning Coffee.” It’s something I look forward to reading. There’s always something I find interesting. It looks like we’re not going to get a post today, so I thought I’d run one.

Let’s get started. Here’s how Jay starts his post:

“So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….”

Rob's Coffee MugOh, he also includes a picture of the coffee mug he’s using. Here’s mine. Unlike Jay I only have one I use regularly. Not that we’re lacking in the coffee mug department, we have quite a few, but this one is mine. It’s a hand crafted masterpiece I purchased at our local Farmers Market.

Super Bowl

Unless you’re one of those folks that don’t like football you know tomorrow is Super Bowl XLVII, in beautiful New Orleans, LA. The Baltimore Ravens will face the San Francisco 49ers. I’m pulling for the Ravens. I’ve had a hate-hate relationship with the Niners since “The Catch.” I was a Cowboys fan at the time and even though I’ve moved on to the Bears the hate for the Niners remains. Let’s hope Baltimore can pull a rabbit out of the hat.

Speaking of Baltimore. It looks like Ray Lewis has caused a bit of a crap storm over his quick recovery from a torn triceps early in the season. PEDs, or performance enhancing drugs, are not new to pro sports. This is just another in a long line of pro athletes being called out. I’d wager to bet he did use something to help him recover, so did Lance Armstrong, and Barry Bonds. Hey, it’s a part of pro sports. I’m probably in the minority here but I say let them use PEDs under the care of a licensed physician as long as they’re aware of the problems associated with them. They’re adults, let them make the decision.

Hey, how about this for goofy move. CBS has banned SodaStream’s Super Bowl commercial. Really weird. From a Forbes report:

“CBS banned SodaStream’s Super Bowl spot because, apparently, it was too much of a direct hit to two of its biggest sponsors, Coke and Pepsi.

Please pause and read that sentence again.”

That says a lot about how fragile Coke and Pepsi have become as a business. It looks like it’s time for those companies to rethink what they do if they’re scared of SodaStream. Things change. Roll with the punches guys. Good luck SodaStream.

Don’t call me RIM

It looks like BlackBerry is not the official name of the company formerly known as RIM. Does anyone else remember the “RIM Jobs” website. Good one. Anyway, BlackBerry announced the new BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 phones this week. The Z10 is a touch based device while the Q10 holds true to a traditional BlackBerry device and has a physical QWERTY keyboard. At first glance I thought the Z10 looked a lot like an iPhone 4, and tweeted as much, but later I realized it’s not as similar as I thought. At first glance the back of the device looked like the all glass iPhone 4 back, it’s not.

I think the Z10 looks pretty nice and the Q10 is a great choice for the keyboard loving BlackBerry loyalists. Will they succeed? Only time will tell.

Twitter Hacked

It looks like hackers were able to gain access to 250,000 user accounts. Whoops. I find the choice of headlines in the weblog post announcing the hack disingenuous. The headline read “Keeping our users secure” then goes on to explain:

“This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led to us identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data. We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later. However, our investigation has thus far indicated that the attackers may have had access to limited user information – usernames, email addresses, session tokens and encrypted/salted versions of passwords – for approximately 250,000 users.”

Come on guys. Quit spinning bad news like it’s a good thing. You should’ve said something like “We’ve been hacked. We’re sorry.”

Weekend Box Office

It looks like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is number one at the box office. We haven’t seen a movie since The Hobit and have missed a bunch of great films that have released since the fall. I think my wife and I need to get out a bit more often. Maybe we can catch Hansel and Gretel soon.

The Twilight Zone, A.K.A. The Stock Market

As Jay pointed out last weekend, Apple took a hit on the stock market. They reported record revenue. The largest revenue of any corporation, ever. From an Extreme Tech article:

“Yet again, Apple has broken its own record and posted revenues of $54.5 billion — the greatest quarter of any company ever — driven entirely by sales of the iPhone and iPad.”

Of course the stock tanked.

On the flip side we have Amazon. A great company? Absolutely. They did however report a $39 loss million for the year. Their quarterly report wasn’t great either:

“Net income fell 45% to $97 million, or 21 cents a share, down from $177 million, or 38 cents a share, a year ago. Street consensus was for EPS of 27 cents. Sales were up 22% to $21.27 billion, from $17.43 billion a year ago. That, too, missed Street views of $22.26 billion.”

The stock was up, of course.

The market is a fickle thing.

The End

Have a great weekend and make sure to visit Jerry’s site next weekend for the real deal, not this wannabe version of Saturday Morning Coffee.

Developer Reality Show?

Eat your own dog food.TechCrunch: “Where do I start? Does everyone in Silicon Valley look like Sarah Austin, Kim & Hermione? Are all the guys wasted and hung over like Dwight? Where are the Wozniaks and Jobses? I am absolutely sure there are smart plain or even ugly people who live and work there. Perhaps they are all kept in the basement hunched over their computers doing the hard work while the “beautiful people” have all the marketing and camera time.”

This is exactly what I predicted. It sounds like Bravo’s Start Ups:Silicon Valley is a complete disaster. The only thing Hollywood understands is itself, so they have to transform everything they do into something that looks like Hollywood. A land of disfunction and self absorption.

I don’t think a show about real developers would be all that interesting. Could you imagine a reality show with two grey beards, sitting back to back, nothing said to each other the entire day? No cat fights, no boys taking off their shirts and strutting around like peacocks, no brogrammers, just real software engineers, doing real work. It would bore you to tears, but at least it would be real.

Twitter as a photo sharing app?

NY Times [Bits Blog]: “According to one Twitter employee, the company’s V.I.T.’s, or Very Important Tweeters, as they are known internally, usually celebrities and media personalities, would be especially happy to see filters in the Twitter mobile apps. Most V.I.T.’s now use Instagram to take photos, and then share them on Twitter, where they often have a larger following.”

Twitter has some issues to solve to make itself a great site for photo sharing, but I think they have the infrastructure to make it work.

First off they acquired Posterous and have allowed the service to languish, but that infrastructure could be the basis of a photo sharing service, much like Instagram. I’m fairly certain it’s difficult to track down old pictures on Twitter because they archive old tweets and we can no longer see them in our timeline. First and foremost they need to fix that. That’s just a technology issue. They have smart folks, they can figure something out.

As for their mobile client what about buying Hipstamatic? I’d imagine since the layoff in August they may be open to talks? Again, this isn’t a real problem. Smart people will come up with great solutions.

Watch out! It's a blog fly!I think the biggest problem Twitter has is the idea that some people are more important than others. Hollywood, for some strange reason, has the eye of Twitter. Why? Movie stars aren’t important people. They’re just like us, nothing special. That is a real cultural problem.

Twitter was built on the backs of third party developers and all us everyday people. Since the VC’s have taken over the company the focus has been on the in crowd, which apparently, are Hollywood stars.

Where will Twitter be when the only people here are the stars and the advertisers?

If you’re looking for a social site supported by users please visit App.Net. It’s full of everyday people like you and me.

Iconfactory on the future of Twitterrific

Ollie!Iconfactory: “For the past several months, we’ve been working on a major update to Twitterrific that we’re very excited about. There were concerns that this new version might end up on the cutting room floor prior to Twitter’s announcement, but after reviewing the new restrictions and speaking with the team at Twitter, we’re pleased to report that our plans remain unchanged.”

Very exciting news!

Twitter Display Guidelines

A wonderful boquet of flowers.In the wake of the new Twitter 1.1 API changes announcement I thought I’d focus my attention on the Twitter Developer Display Guidelines so I can understand the changes I’ll see to my favorite Twitter client; Twitterrific.

The guidelines will make our Twitter experience more consistent, boy howdy. Basically every Twitter client will look pretty much the same or it won’t be allowed to use the Twitter API, and a client that can’t use the API is useless.

Please note, if you’re using a Twitter provided client, these rules don’t apply, so you have nothing to worry about.

How do the various clients display Tweets in the Timeline? See the Timelines section in Display Guidelines.

Twitterrific

Twitterrific is my favorite client because it’s darned simple, great UX and UI design. Twitterrific is unique amongst the three clients we’ll examine because it shows a reply icon in every tweet. Note the arrow in the lower right corner of the image. Tapping on that icon will display a menu of choices that includes Reply, Direct Message, Retweet, and Retweet with Comment. Not even Twitter’s native iOS client provides this functionality.

Twitterrific: What needs fixing?

I use the term fixing loosely. Here is a list of the rules Twitterrific breaks, according to the Display Guidelines.

  1. Tweet Author
    • The user’s name and @username should be displayed on one line, with the name first.
  2. Retweets
    • If the Tweet being displayed is a Retweet, the name of the user who Retweeted it and the Retweet icon must be displayed under the Tweet text. e.g. “Retweeted by Josh Brewer”. The name should link to the the Retweeting user’s profile [1].

The @username doesn’t appear in the tweet and the retweeted by text doesn’t show below the tweet. It’s not seen here, but the retweet text displays to the right of the users name. One of the great things about Twitterrific is how it displays tweets in different colors depending on the context of the tweet. I’m not sure how Twitter will feel about that, but the guideline doesn’t call it out.

That’s not so bad, but it does mean Iconfactory will need to fix some things.

Tweetbot

Tweetbot: What needs fixing?

  1. Tweet Author
    • The user’s name and @username should be displayed on one line, with the name first.
    • The avatar must be positioned to the left of the name, @username, and Tweet text.
  2. Timestamps
    • Tweet timestamp should be displayed in the top right corner.
  3. Retweets
    • If the Tweet being displayed is a Retweet, the name of the user who Retweeted it and the Retweet icon must be displayed under the Tweet text. e.g. “Retweeted by Josh Brewer”. The name should link to the the Retweeting user’s profile [1].

Tapbots has a bit of work. In most cases the users avatar is displayed in the proper position, unless its your tweet, then it’s on the right. That’s an easy fix for them. Once that is fixed the timestamp will move to the proper position in the upper right corner. The Retweets item is interesting. The rule states it should display the name of the user who retweeted it. Tweetbot does that, sort of. If the retweet was by you it displays “Retweeted by You”, which doesn’t fit the rule to the letter.

Twitter

Twitter: What needs fixing?

  1. Retweets
    • If the Tweet being displayed is a Retweet, the name of the user who Retweeted it and the Retweet icon must be displayed under the Tweet text. e.g. “Retweeted by Josh Brewer”. The name should link to the the Retweeting user’s profile [1].

Not surprisingly Twitter does the best job of following the rules, but they do break this one. In the Twitter iOS client a retweet icon is display in the upper right hand corner of the tweet and the user’s name isn’t displayed.

Random Note

In the Individual Tweet section under the Branding bullet point this is listed.

The Twitter logo or Follow button for the Tweet author must always be displayed in the top right corner.

Emphasis on the word Tweet is mine. Twitter didn’t coin the term “Tweet”, the fine folks at Iconfactory did.

EOL

Twitter Cards

All Things D, by Mike Isaac: “This was a big deal. Countless numbers of smaller start-ups rely on access to Twitter’s public-facing feed, using the tweets in their own businesses for any number of reasons. If the terms of access were to be altered significantly, it could impact the livelihoods of thousands. The company didn’t elaborate on what exactly those guidelines would be, and has said little else since. The key takeaway echoed in one repeated word: Consistency. Twitter’s future plans strove for consistency across the platform.”

I had started a post to talk about where I thought Twitter was headed, but there’s no need to finish it. Mike Isaac did a great job in his article, and can actually write. It’s better to stick with the pros.

I wonder where this is all headed, given the Delivering a consistent Twitter experience post June 29:

“Related to that, we’ve already begun to more thoroughly enforce our Developer Rules of the Road with partners, for example with branding, and in the coming weeks, we will be introducing stricter guidelines around how the Twitter API is used.”

If cards are a future piece to the Twitter puzzle and they’re after a consistent user experience where does that leave third party client developers? Has Twitter made contact with them to share how they should proceed with their implementation of Twitter Cards?

The Ugly Option

I still believe there is a slight chance Twitter could pull the plug on all third party clients, but I hope not. This would give Twitter full control over all clients and allow them to kill off all their native clients and go straight for HTML in the browser.

This is, of course, a horrible idea. HTML on mobile is still disgusting, slow, and provides a horrible user experience. Why go that route?

The Compromise

Twitter could be a real standup citizen and provide third party clients with guidelines for the inclusion of Twitter Cards, and other options, in client applications. They could also provide an expected timeline for inclusion of these features and allow the clients to operate without the new feature until that date. When the date expires and the client doesn’t include the new feature implemented in a Twitter approved way, they’re cut off until they are compliant.

If you’re interested you can read about Twitter Cards on the Twitter Developers site.