Cloudy Days and Connected Nights

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Archive for the ‘Mobile Foto’ Category

Managing Social Aggravation on the iPhone and Desktop

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Seesmic Desktop Preview, feedalizer, zensify, Darkslide, Mobile Foto (with Tweetie and TwitterFon thrown in the mix) and a brief encounter with PeopleBrowser.

Seesmic Desktop Preview: Twitter accounts and Facebook in one app.

Seesmic Desktop Preview: Twitter accounts and Facebook in one app.

In this day of multiple social networks and multiple social network personalities, the task of keeping up with your Facepeeps, Tweeps, and Flickr buds can be daunting,  even for the least social.

And then too, many of us are multiple device folks: desktop, laptop, netbook, internet connected smartphone, etc., etc. so we are often tracking our networks from two or three directions at once.

Of course there are several good desktop and iPhone clients for Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr…in various combinations.

My favorite for  Twitter and Facebook is Seesmic Desktop Preview, which handles multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, updates, replies/comments, friend/news feeds, follow and unfollow on Twitter, and most of the essential features of both sites. It is still a work in progress (it lacks the ability to view your own friend/follow list for instance), but it is excellent already and only stands to get better as it develops.

Recently I discovered zensify on the iPhone. zensify is a social network aggregater  that puts my Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr feeds in the same list on the same app, and allows me to update, reply, comment, etc. on each of them, with more or less ease.

Twitter interaction is pretty good, on a basic level, mimicking closely the functionality of  other iPhone Twitter apps like Tweetie and TwitterFon. You can choose to Reply or Direct Message. You can post images.

zensify: one stop social aggreation for the iPhone

zensify: one stop social aggreation for the iPhone

Flickr interaction is very good also. zensify displays single or multiple new image posts from your contacts list, and at it also captures images with new comments. In cases where there are multiple images opening the viewer provides a slide show effect where you can flip through the offerings. To comment you have to tap the image (lower right corner seems to work best) and the Flickr .m site opens with the image displayed. Commenting is quick and easy and relatively fast.

Facebook interaction is the weakest so far (though there are hints they are not done with this section).  It collects your friend’s status updates just fine, and you can view them the viewer, and like them, but to make a comment (so far) you have to open the friend’s profile in the browser. Awkward.

One good feature is that you can make simultaneous posts to Twitter and Facebook.

Of course, there is a whole layer of functionality provided by dedicated clients for these networks that is missing so far in zensify. You can not view followers/friends, follow or friend, unfollow or block, view friend’s/follower’s timelines, view follower’s followers, see the update that was replied to, etc. etc.

zensify takes a while to aggregate all that information too, and clearly strains the limits of what current iPhone hardware is capable of.

Therefore, wonderful as it is being able to interact with all my important social networks in a single app, zensify will not be replacing Tweetie or TwitterFon for Twitter, or the Facebook app for Facebook until it reaches a more complete level of development (and maybe not until I upgrade to a new iPhone).

But that leaves me without an easy means of keeping up with my flickr account. I can easily fall 400 images behind on my contact’s submissions if I am away from the netbook for more than a few hours!

Darkslide: list view, Mobile Foto: grid view of contact's recent images

Darkslide: list view, Mobile Foto: grid view of contact's recent images

I have had the free, ad supported, version of Darkslide on my iPhone for some time, but never gotten into the habit of using it. After zensify I gave it another try and liked it so well, I ended up buying the paid version.

Darkslide implements the full feature set of Flickr, including image uploads, groups, sets, etc. etc. but for me the best part is that it  gives you quick easy access to your contacts’ recent posts, with an excellent viewer and easy commenting and is just the thing for keeping up with the image flow on the iPhone.

Unfortunately Darkside has two annoying habits. 1) when you reopen it, it stalls and refuses to reload whatever you were viewing last until you manually initiate a reload by tapping, for instance, My Photos if you are in Contacts, and then retapping Contacts. Annoying! Then too, Darkside is evidently working without a parachute (no local cache) so it has to reload everything every time you work with it. That can take a while if you have a lot of contacts, and forever if you have a lot of images yourself. Annoying. (Interestingly there is a Cache size readout in Settings, but it is always blank.) [Note: v 1.6.1 (current in the app store) is apparently broken in several ways, prone to crashing, and to hanging up internally when switching functions. The company is aware of the problem and working on a fix.]

Which lead me to search for alternatives. Mobile Fotos presents itself as a full featured Flickr client, and it is just that. Since it does cache locally, it is much faster than Darkslide, and it auto reloads on launch. I do not like the way it displays Contacts’ images quite as well as Darkslide, which groups multiple images from a single contact together under the contacts name in a list view, and it has one glaring omission (shocking!): there is no Activity function to look at activity on your own images.

Which lead me back to Flickr’s own m.flickr.com site, which is, afterall, very good. Not as fast as Mobile Foto, but in many ways the layout, look and feel, is just about as elegant as Darkslide (except no dark background view of images!!!, and the new postings are not grouped by contact), and it actually works better than the standard web version in that it returns to the actual page of contacts you were commenting on when you complete a comment…rather than poping all the way back to the first page of contacts’ images. For now, it might just be the easiest, fastest, way to keep up with contacts’ new postings.

zensify did make me wonder about developments in similar functionality for the desktop. FriendFeed I find somewhat limited from the interactive aspects, and I don’t enjoy being tied to my browser, but the availability of Adobe AIR has spawned quite a few social aggregation desktop apps beyond Seesmic Desktop.

You may have seen postings around the net for PeopleBrowser. People browser looks to be the ultimate be all and end all for social networking: once it is finished. Though a beta was announced this week, all I can find is the most recent alpha, which shows the potential. Unfortunately it appears unnecessairly complex and seems to produce inconsistent results at best. I will be tracking development on this one but it does not seem ready for prime time yet.

feedalizr: one stop desktop social aggregater

feedalizr: desktop social aggregation

feedalizr is an older, more mature app that looks like it might have been the inspiration for zensify.

Functionally they are much the same. You set up your accounts and then feedalizr aggregates them into one list. Filters are provided so you can see just what you want in the primary list, and you can open all kinds of things (other accounts, individual tweeps or Facepeeps, groups, searchs, etc.) in tabs beside the primary list. So far, I have not found a way to show new images of those who are not classifed as Flickr friends…all my contacts are missing.

Interaction with the various networks, updates, image posts, comments, replies, etc.  is pretty easy and works well, with pop down posting boxes, drag and drop for images for Twitter and Facebook, and image titling, tagging and description fields for Flickr uploads (up to 10 images at a time).

As with zensify, feedalizr appears to lack the second layer of functionality for Twitter and Facebook: friend/follow, unfollow, etc. (You can do these things but it kicks you out to the main Twitter site or Facebook to do them.) It does have a groups feature which is quick and easy (or was, until it mysteriously stopped working for me).

So, just as on the iPhone, the all in one solution on the desktop does not seem to be quite there. Seesmic Desktop still comes closest, but lacks the Flickr feed.

And I have yet to find an equivalent for Darkslide or Mobile Foto on the desktop. There is an Adobe AIR program called DestroyFlickr which attempts to be the equivalent for the desktop, but it will not run well on my netbook’s 1024×600 screen (AIR seems to still have trouble with windows).

The upstart of all this is…with the really strong social networking apps on the iPhone, it is getting to be more fun, and faster, to track my networks on the phone than it is on the netbook. This does not, somehow, seem right, but there it is!

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