People, technology and life

Category: apps

Does the Chrome still need to be polished?

To be honest, after my last post, I really wanted to like Google Chrome for iOS. I really, really did. Yes, I rely heavily on Google’s products. I use gmail and have three apps accounts with all the assorted documents. I use both Chrome and Chrome Canary on my Mac and Chrome on my Nexus S. So, when Google announced Chrome for iOS, that sounded great.

Some of Chrome’s functions sounded like someone finally got it. Especially sharing open tabs across devices. I have that often. I have been browsing the web in the evening on the couch, then come across something I really want to continue on the Mac the next day. And all there was to do with Safari, was copy the link and send it. Or type it on the Mac the next morning. All very annoying.

And yes, that feature works. I can now see the tabs from my Mac on my iPad, on my Phone and all the other ways around. However, Chrome has one major problem for me. And it is something that always happens with Google. I don’t know why, but it always does. Google Chrome does not play well with its own products. And I mean gmail specifically. To be honest, there are only two tabs that remain open on my iPad at all times. One is Gmail. And it works fine on the Safari browser on the iPad where it will show the mobile version. However, on Chrome, it tries to load the desktop version and fails miserably. When I leave it to load the page completely, it crashes. When I want to select messages before it finishes loading, it opens them, then crashes. In all honesty, whatever I do, in the end, when the page finishes loading, it crashes.

I know. It is probably just me. Who in their right minds still possesses the Original iPad, right? And still uses it. I mean, Apple has more or less stated that when they decided not to bring iOS6 to the iPad one, though the technology can still take it. Maybe that is the trouble with Chrome as well. I don’t know.

But in reality, there might be something that is flawed in the basics of Google Chrome. Sharing the tabs is great. However, some of the sites just need to be viewed in mobile instead of the full version you use on your computer. And there seems to be no intelligence filtering that out. That, even though I love Gmail’s desktop interface, it is unusable on the iPad where fingers are bigger than mouse pointers. So, that needs the mobile interface. However, others like Facebook, I want to use in their desktop guise. Oh, and there is the minor issue that I don’t like to have the browser I use crash every five minutes.

Get that sorted though, and Chrome might be worth using for me.

Flickr launches android app

The original. Click it to go to the full set with 10 filters.

The original. Click it to go to the full set with 10 filters.

Great news for a boring Friday afternoon. The Flickr app has finally come to Android. So, you now need to download it and go outside to take pictures of everything you see. The app takes the whole Flickr experience along to your phone. You can browse your photostream and the streams of your contacts. You can comment and share pictures on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, your WordPress blog or via email. Nice.

Obviously, no Flickr app would be complete without the option to take a picture and uploading it to Flickr straight from your phone. And this app does that. Or so I have heard from others, as it crashes on my Nexus S every time I take a picture. Luckily for me, you can also pull a picture out of your phones’ gallery and use that.

The new Flickr app has got 10 filters that can be applied to your pictures for that Instagramesque feeling. Does it cut it? Well, it comes close. The filters are nice and consistent, but without a picture that matches the filter, it won’t be nice to look at. I have taken a standard photo with some nice colors, sun and shade and you can see the filters at work.

Will I use it? Well, I am doubtful. Why? Well, first off, because it crashed on me. I tend to dislike that. Besides, I share most of my pictures through Mobypicture and use the Camera Effects app if I want filters. Is it a bad app? No, it is actually quite a nice app. Great controls and easy to locate what you need.

As an extra, Flickr has launched Photo Sessions. A way to share your slideshow with your friends regardless of the device they are on. And they can comment on your photos etc. Nice. But I miss the audio channel of being able to talk to your friends to hear them as you share the pictures. Just a thought.

Facebook Messenger for Android now available in Europe

Right before heading off to bed to leave for a conference early tomorrow morning, I decided to check the Android Market. I was sure Facebook was not going to be releasing its Messenger app so quickly in Europe, but I was proven wrong. I already had the iPhone app through my American iTunes account, but now the Android app is available for Europe in the Android market as well. A great step for what might just replace most of my other messaging apps.

Download Facebook Messenger from the Android Market.

Facebook launches Messenger App; the end for Blackberry?

Last night Facebook launched their new Messenger App. The app is a stand separate app that allows you to quickly exchange messages with your friends. It has notifications and it allows you to send out group messages. These features make it an instant competitor for SMS and other messaging apps that try to provide an alternative to SMS. However, it comes from Facebook, instantly taking along its 750 million active users. These users need to decide whether they want to keep all their communications in one place -Facebook- or whether they are going to spread it over several different services. And I bet you can guess what the answer will be.

Not only will Facebook’s Messenger app be annoying to the telecom providers that see yet more SMS income seep away through its data services, but it might also mean the end to Blackberry. Over the past years Blackberry has been building its userbase more and more on their Blackberry messaging app. And that has gone great so far. Well, except for the occasional London riot. Many people have taken the plunge and spent a good amount of cash on getting a blackberry, because you don’t need much money to have a data connection and sending your text messages is then free. So you are just as connected, only cheaper. The Facebook Messenger app is going to change the reasoning. Now you can grab a cheap Android phone, which are priced below the Blackberry. You can run a Facebook messaging app on, which will do the same as the Blackberry messenger app. But now you can continue your conversation on your computer. Or any other online device. And with the full Facebook app added, you have all the access to your friends online as well. Great for users on a tight budget. And great for Facebook as well, as you only need to connect to be able to message. That makes you want to be friends.

A great step by Facebook. And it leaves me to wonder what will be their next. Though I have a thought or two. For now the Facebook Messenger app will only be available in the US, but it will become more widely available in the future. You can check it out now at the American iTunes store and Android Market.

Starbucks Card mobile is nice, but could be fantastic

In January of this year, Starbucks launched its Starbucks card mobile app for the iPhone. An easy way to pay for your coffee by holding your iPhone in front of the scanner at your local Starbucks. Great thought. But why didn’t they take it a step further?

Back in 2008 I was approached by someone from Dun & Bradstreet to advice on an online strategy for a coffee company. I allowed my mind to run wild and mobile. Mobile is a great way forward for many organizations as it can connect their customer base to their products wherever they are. This can be especially valuable if you run a chain of stores. Starbucks currently only utilizes that one aspect of the mobile opportunity. But it should not stop at that.

If you are into highly customizable products such as coffee, there are endless opportunities to involve people in their process. Granted, this might be a bit too complicated for Starbucks as they run a range of standard products, but for any other coffee company this can be a key to beating Starbucks at their game. Imagine being able to choose your coffee on the way in to the store. You can choose one of the standard products, but you can also to select the exact blend for your coffee from selection of beans and additions at the store. You can then name that blend and save it to rate it as you drink your coffee. These new ‘custom’ coffee’s can be shared with your friends and you might decide that you want to have ‘one of what they are having’. That creates a whole new way of being involved with your store, your favorite drink and your friends. As a coffee company you might even be interested in promoting the top ten UGC’s (User Generated Coffee’s).

Regardless of whether you are offering the custom coffee creator (above), you could easily create an environment where people can share a coffee with someone else. If you use custom coffee’s, you can ‘give‘ someone a coffee of your latest and greatest blend through the app. Look at it as a very personal gift from your taste buds to your friends‘ morning experience. Just by the touch of a virtual button you pay for their warm wakeup. I am amazed that Starbucks has missed out on this opportunity. Or the opportunity to share your credits with others so that they can pick up a coffee for you on their way into the office. Something that could solve the small change problems at the office.

I see a great future for the chain who would be willing to implement an app which can do the things I mentioned above. And if you are the coffee company that dares, feel free to contact me so I can help you go mobile.

The Friday Five – Five iPad apps to stay in touch with what is happening

The coming weeks I have decided to have one day with a theme. The Friday Five. On the coming Fridays, I will be posting short lists of things. Things to do, things not to do. Things to change or things you should not be without. The Friday Five will reflect my personal view on many things. And as it is Friday, it is not always going to be very serious.

This week I want to share my five favorite apps on the iPad that I use to stay in touch with what is happening:


This has been on top of my list on both the iPad as well as the iPad ever since it was released. I never access the actual app, but its ability to give me push notifications on many services has helped me stay in touch realtime. One of my latest additions is a combination of a filter on my Google Apps account which forwards to Boxcar when mails with certain words or from certain people arrive. That enables me to quickly respond to current projects or special clients.

Twitter for iPad

One of the best Twitter clients around. The joy of browsing through tweets, hashtags, people’s conversations is huge. Twitter for Mac is getting close, but is not as much fun as Twitter for iPad is.


Just in and already on place three. Flipboard used to live here, but Zite is just so much nicer. Granted, it can do with some improvement, but the basis is great. It enables me to catch up with what has been happening in a comfortable manner. However, I would like it to be more clear in the way it uses my RSS feeds from Google Reader. Besides that, I would love an option to add my own account and a list of articles I want to save for later use, perhaps through Instapaper.

Friendly Facebook for iPad

Catching up with friends on Facebook is great to do, but I am not much of a fan of the Facebook site on the iPad. The official Facebook app is great on the iPhone, but doesn’t scale to the iPad, so I looked at Friendly. And I think it is pretty good. Does it enhance your life incredibly? No, but it is easy to use and nice to look at, so a definite must have if you want to do Facebook on the iPad.


Just for the fun of it really. Tweetradar does what its name implies. It shows you a google maps background on which it projects the tweets for that area. Great to spot what is happening in your backyard, your city, another city or just for an event.

There you go, the Friday Five for this week. If you have an app you would want me to try, just let me know. If you have something that you would like to get my opinion on, let me know, I’ll do a Friday Five on it.

How many apps do you want?

At LeWeb I met a number of startups. They ranged from not very interesting to very interesting. However the thing that really struck me when talking to them is that they are still so focussed on being the one platform for their users. Most ask you to import your friends, or ask you to at least invite them to their service. A lot of them work only with the information in their own databases and rely on their users to fill them. Frankly, I was disappointed. As an example, I was approached by a startup which operated only on the iPhone and which could recommend places to go based on what others had said about it. The good part of this app was that it connected with Facebook. One less account to worry about. The bad part was that they gathered the information my friends had put on Facebook through their social checkins through other apps. The main problem with this was that I needed to use the app to find a place where I could go. Then I needed to open an app to tell me where to get there. After I had arrived, I then needed to close the app and check in through a number of other apps. I would then use other apps while I would be at the venue for whatever I would want to share with my friends. And at the end of the night I would have to open their app again to rate the venue, tell others what I had done and share that through their network. Honestly? For me, that makes it useless. If you are building an app, try to incorporate the most obvious things into your app so that it your user is not hassled by it, but gets the feeling that the app makes life easier for them.

In the case of this particular app, it would have been much easier if they would have chosen to include checking in on the most available sites such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook pages etc. And it is not that hard. Most offer an API which you can use, making it relatively easy to incorporate.

What it really comes down to is determining how your app can make your user’s life easier. Because that is the reason we use apps. We want them to add to our life instead of making it an extra something that we need to do. So yes, it is great if “there’s an app for that”, but it is even greater if there is a single app that follows through the whole process that the user is in. And better still if that is done regardless of whether the service the user wants to use is part of the developers’ stable. If that is something you can do for your customer, you might just be on to a winner.

© 2024 Arne Hulstein

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