August Roundup

2 09 2010

August has been a busy month at Appjudge. At the height of summer, I have covered the monthly disposable App, reviewed backing up your data with Dropbox and covered how to find the best Apps on the store, as well as a lot more. In case you’ve missed any of August’s posts, see the summary below with links to the relevant articles.

August’s Posts

The World at your fingertips

For August’s Disposable App of the month, I turned to Google Earth, an App from the internet search giants, that allows you to pinch, scroll and touch your way around the globe. While the App helps prove to your mates how superior your iDevice is to their measly phone, it has very little functionality. The App is a stripped down version of the desktop Google Earth, and therefore, is unlikely to remain on your device for long.

The forgotten victims of iOS 4

For owners of the iPhone 3G and the iPod Touch second generation, it’s been quite a roller coaster ride over the past few months. Users initially delighted that their older devices would be supported by the iOS4  update, only to be disappointed when the update rendered their devices almost unusable. I cover the whole story from beginning to end, and look into what choices 3G and 2nd Gen Touch users have.

Avoiding the digital abyss

As we keep more and more of possessions in the realm of the digital, it’s becoming increasingly important that we backup our precious files and memories. One solution to this comes in the form of the online service, Dropbox. The internet based company has released a corresponding App to extend their reach to iOS users. I review the App and see how well the App integrates with the existing service.

How to Find Good Apps

There are over 225,000 Apps on the store, and asa result, finding the good Apps, from the not so good, can be quite the task. In an attempt to better guide users round the Appstore, I set out some criteria to look out for when attempting to download Apps from the store.

Welcome to the Social Epicentre

In this post I cover a new social App on the store, The Hotlist, that attempts to aggregate location data, while integrating other services and information, such as Twitter and Yelp reviews. The end result, is an App that allows the users to get the vibe of an event, without having to set a foot inside.

I’ve just bought an iPhone…now what? Part 3

The final part of three part post, in which I handpick the best Apps from each of the categories from the Appstore. In this post, I cover the following categories: Productivity, Reference, Social Networking, Sports, Travel and Weather.





Welcome to the Social Epicentre

21 08 2010

We live in a world in which we have a dual identity, one in the real world and the other, on the internet, and for most this comes in the form of a Facebook or Twitter account. As well as this, there has been a rise in Geo location and the integration of this with the social sites, with the rise of services such as Foursquare. However, at the moment, all of these web and social services are failing to interact with one another. For example, I can check in with Foursquare, but then I can’t create a Facebook event using this Geo location data and invite friends to it, and I can’t check Twitter for related tweets about the location that I’ve checked into. In an attempt to bridge the gap between some of the social services, the Hotlist App  aggregates data from your Facebook account to populate the App with events and friends. From there, other services, such as Yelp and Twitter, provided additional information, which all contributes to a stream of relevant information that the user can use to their advantage.

The Basics

Category: Social

Last Update: 30 July 2010

Seller: Hotlist Media, Inc

Price: Free

Size: 1.2 mb

Version: 1.0

Requires: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later

The Review

One of the key features that sets the App apart from other social services, is the level of integration that The Hotlist offers. On the most basic level, the App connects with your Facebook account so it can import friend’s details. From there, based on events in the Hotlist database, the App can provide reviews from Yelp, the girl to guy ratio and, probably the most helpful, Tweets from people at the event, which gives users an insight of the vibe of a venue without stepping a foot inside. The integration of this data, combined with your friends from Facebook, gives the user access to information that allow them to make better informed decisions.

The overall level information that the user can gain from using this App is staggering, however, the developers need to continue to expand the level of integration, with additional services, such as Foursquare. I understand that this will rely heavily on how open social services are willing to be when it comes to integrating their data into the Hotlist App, however the more relevant services that The Hotlist aggregates, the more useful the App becomes, since with more relevant and quality information, users can make better decisions.

Along with the integration and aggregation of external data, the App is also well stocked out with features, such as directions to events which exports to the Google Maps App. Users also have the ability to track their friends through both a profile page, which reveals additional information on the person, as well as a news stream that mentions when and where your friends will be.

At the time of writing, the App covers over 1.2 million venues across 86 cities, and the App encourages users to add venues through the database via a simple entry form. At the moment the coverage of events in England is mainly focused around the main cities, however over time, as the service matures, the coverage will spread as people add places to the database.

While the App has good features as well as the integration of your social data, the App would benefit from additional features such as push notifications, for when friends check into or create an event. At the moment, the user has to continually check the App to find out the whereabouts of friends and events. The Hotlist also lacks a settings page, that allows users some basic controls over the experience. On a basic level, users should be able to change the theme of the App, as I don’t think the bright orange header will appeal to all. A good example of user control over the user interface of the App, is the Google Mobile App, which allows users to change the colour of the header. If the Hotlist was to adopt a similar features, it would broaden their user base, since it allows users to tailor their experience. On a more complex level, another setting could help reduce the amount of data that the App downloads. One example of this, is when looking at an event profile, the pictures of all the people who are attending are downloaded. There should be a setting to turn this, and similar data intensive features off.

Conclusion: A promising app with a bright future that is heavily dependent on both users, since it’s up to them to add to the database, and the developer’s relationship with social services. As I mentioned before, it’s vital that the developers continue to integrate other social services into the App in order to ensure that the Hotlist continues to be ahead of the pack. As it stands, this is a good App, which integrates data  and services in a new and inventive way. With a few changes to the App, mainly the introduction of a settings page and regular updates, this could be a five star App.

Rating:

+ Integration and aggregation of data and services

+ Features

+ Inspired new approach to the social App genre

– Minor adjustments- settings page

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