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Sunday, June 20, 2010

What I need from my favorite location-based application/s



Some of you may have not decided if you want to start using location-based services yet or not. Perhaps you are wondering how will this service be useful to me? Or perhaps it is the privacy issue holding you back. Well, I'm not going to try to convince you today whether to use it or not, instead my focus is geared toward the people who already use it, and been using it for a while now. Don't you feel that these services are still lacking some features? In my case, I use Gowalla, but the same will apply to Foursquare: so you checked in a place, now what? In Gowalla, thank god, I still have the ability to pick up some cool badges, upload pictures, and comment on interesting places, but in Foursquare I can't - I can get to leave tips, which is pretty useful. BUT - I think both of the services are not half way there yet. I can think of so many ways to improve this check-in place experience so of course I have to share some of my thoughts:

Pictures: Thanks for the ability to upload pictures, Gowalla, but I also want the option to connect to image services that I'm already using. If it's Twitter, let me upload to Twitpic, Tweetphoto, etc. If it's Facebook, why not auto-open an album and upload all my pictures to there (I'm already connected to the service anyway), same goes to Flickr. It's not that you just let me check in and upload a picture at the same time, at least let the user have the ability to choose which service to use other than your own.

Badges: Gowalla has the awesomest badges, and Foursquare has some sort of a game going with not so great looking badges. Personally, I think that at some point it will become boring to become a mayor of a place or get a local badge so I'm hoping Foursquare will renew the game, but Gowalla... I really wish they made their game more powerful and interesting. The badges are great, and it's nice to have or swap them, but what about sending them as a gift to someone, or trading them in as real gifts at some point, or as coupons... (will get to that later). I just think that there could be better and interesting ways to give some liveliness to the lovely badges.

Nearby Friends: I really like the view on Google Latitude where you can see your friends' location on a big map. I think Gowalla (and probably Foursquare as well) are focusing on nearby spots and not handling the idea of connecting friends with others on a larger scale so well. There are so many ways in which I could have found time between meetings to enjoy with friends who were nearby (relatively) but I was unaware of their proximity...

Private messages: I guess the only good point of having private messages (aka DMs) instead of using email, is the ability of these applications to inform the user via notifications (if using iPhone) - which makes it easier to track a private conversation from within the application, which also means you don't have to expose your email address.

Recommended Places: I think both services do not handle recommendations very well - People should easily be able to add reviews, other people should be able to easily search for them. Foursquare is doing a better job with tips, but still, I'd like to get the best recommendations first, and not just random feedback. These things are usually measured by people voting and rating (would be nice to allow folks to do) - empower the users.

Coupons: I'd love to see some partnership with offline services such coffee shops, restaurants, stores, etc. If people offer recommendations on a place, and more people are going there because of these suggestions, it is more than likely that the place would want to give some kind of discount and collaborate with these kind of services. The problem is how to get to some of these services worldwide. But this is something that the users themselves can help do. For example, there is a coffee place in Tel Aviv that I usually go to and check in at. The owner of the place doesn't even know that I can bring more people in just by doing this. I'm sure that if I discussed this with him, and explained the service to him, I could (hypothetically speaking) get a deal like - everyone who checks in through Gowalla gets a special badge that maybe later can translate into a coupon or a discount - oh wait, a discount badge sound awesome :)

There is also a list of web and mobile services that I wish would be integrated into the Gowalla & Foursquare platforms, but that is a whole different post...
posted by Orli Yakuel at 8:15 AM 8 comments

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Personalized eBooks for the Little Ones

Here's a quick recommendation of a sweet site I just ran into called MeeGenius. The site contain a library with books for kids that can be read on the site itself, over the iPhone, or through the iPad.

The books come with audio playback and word highlighting, and can be personalized just the way you like them. Meaning, your kid name can be added to the book story in a snap. For example, you can change the character names in 'Little Red Riding Hood' to the original names in your family and make the story your own.

The children's book reader app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad has the same functions (audio playback, word highlighting and auto-play). The books are displayed on a digital bookshelf and your kid can simply choose his favorite book when the app is launched.

I couldn't try it on the iPad, but from what I've tested on the web, the books are beautifully made, and the stories are well known so it will be more easy for children to connect to them. Best of all, you can read all the books at the site for free. Or download the iPhone/iPad apps (for a decent price)

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posted by Orli Yakuel at 8:00 PM 2 comments

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Like It or Not: You Like the Like Button

We founded Go2web20 almost 4 years ago, since then we've changed it dramatically (only once, when we moved from FLASH to AJAX) in order to make it faster and enjoyable site for our readers. Now as in the past, we get lots of positive feedback on the site and people seem to enjoy it. We know it has been used for research at schools & colleges, as a reference source for designers, and as a search engine for everything that is great on the web.

We know we haven't changed it as much and often as you might have wanted us to change it, but nevertheless, we do care about it, and we are trying to add new and fresh content on a daily basis.

Today we are announcing a small, yet powerful feature we're adding that we hope you will like.

You know how everyone added the 'like button' to their site once Facebook announced it? Well, we had to do it as well :)
But wait, there's more - We thought it would be nice if you could search a site in our directory and while visiting it, being able to see how many people liked the site, and who among them are your friends. So lets say you visit this Delicious page in Go2web20, and want to get on to the site - when clicking on the button: 'continue to the site' you will see this snippet over the top of the site you are about to visit:


Clicking on the x button will close the snippet and take you directly to the site. You can also go back to the directory to search for other sites if you haven't found what you need yet.

This is how the post will look if you'd post it on Facebook BTW.

Basically, it is LIKE a friends' recommendation add-on that we think will add value when you visit a new site. We just added it, so you won't see many 'likes' at this stage, but as more people like-what-you-like, then people (mostly, your friends) will reap recommendations.

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posted by Orli Yakuel at 9:43 AM 2 comments

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