NY Times iPhone App Offline Support is Awesome!! Works Perfectly.

I take the subway to work everyday. During that time period, I’m completely without mobile reception. I have an iPhone and AT&T and that doesn’t work in the subway tunnels.

So I was kind of excited when the NY Times announced that they were adding offline support for their iPhone app. I tried it on the subway today and it worked perfectly.

Now, I wish that Apple would add offline capability to the iPhone version of Safari so that I could do this with just a normal mobile Web site.


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Mafia LIVE! – My New Favorite iPhone Game

I have a new iPhone game which I’m addicted to.  It’s called Mafia LIVE! (iTunes URL) It’s a mobile massive multiple role playing game and SOOO much fun.

At the start of the game, you’re a kid on the street who’s trying to start the biggest mafia family.  There are jobs for you to do, you fight other families (who are other people who play the game), you win money, buy equipment, and you buy real estate.  As time passes, collect skills, and experience, the more you have the ability to do.

As if this wasn’t addictive enough, the game has a bigger social component to it.  You create your mafia family by teaming up with your friends.  For example, my mafia family code is 200313114. (Invite me to your family :-)).  In the game you can enter my code and we can become a bigger family to do bigger things.   It even has address book integration so that you can send invites.

It’s a really fun game.

The most interesting part of the game is that it’s SUPER low-fi.  It’s not super fancy graphics.  It’s probably just a mobile Web site.

I wonder what kind of numbers the game gets.  I hope they’re tracking the numbers.  I bet they’re getting some crazy high engagement levels.

Now they just need to find out a way to keep people paying them money so that they can continue making cash even from the folks who’ve been playing the game for a while.  Would it be through ads?  Would you have to upgrade to a 2.0 version of the game, kind of like with the new World of Warcraft packs?


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For Me, AT&T Cell Networks Were Down For Most of the Inauguration

I was really hoping that using Qik and my iPhone that I’d be able to give more of a man on the street view of the inauguration but, despite AT&T’s assertions in the NY Times to the contrary, AT&T’s cell network was down for most of the inauguration. I tried making lots of calls and they hardly ever went through. The data network was just dead from 10am on, till the end.

It’s not just that I have an iPhone. All of my non-iPhone user friends had similar problems.  I’m not mad at them.  There were 2 million people there.  I didn’t expect it to stay up.  Just don’t say things worked like a charm.

Thummit Makes Mobile Reviews Easy

I have tried just about every user-generated review site (i.e. Yelp, Cork’d) there is and most suffer from the exact same problem.   They don’t capture my thoughts and feelings about the product they want me to review when I’m having them.

When I get home from a good restaurant, I usually want to take a nap.  I don’t want to have to sit down at a computer a remember the nuance of the wine that I drank and how creamy my rissotto was.

This is where Washington DC-based startup Thummit get’s it right. They’re a user-generated review site but they do a great job of using the mobile phone as a way to capture the users’ thoughts and feelings.

You can either send a text message to their SMS exchange number or you can use Twitter and say “@thummit”.  Thummit can capture your twitter data.

The fact that it can grab Twitter I think is really smart.  So, instead of me having to do something wholly new and different just for Thummit, like I have to do with Yelp, it uses my existing behavior.  I would have tweeted regardless about whether or not I liked the restaurant.  Why not send that data to Thummit and allow it to serve it in aggregate with others reviews?

Of course, other user-generated review sites are getting into the mobile game.  The guys behind Living Social (also based in Washington, DC) have recently launched an iPhone app, which makes their app infinitely more useful.  I like to try new beers and so when I’m at the bar I find myself consistently going to my iPhone to log the beer using their Brew Social.

Right now Thummit is in private beta.  If you’re interested in trying it out, I’ll ask my friends the founders and maybe they’ll give me some invites.  Let me know.

My Thoughts on the Facebook iPhone App

I’m surprised the more folks aren’t writing about the different iPhone apps.  Thought maybe I’d put down some notes about the different ones that I’ve used.

I’ve already spoken about my love for the Pandora app.  The next one I thought I’d write about was the Facebook app (iTunes Link).

It has 5 major sections: Home, You, Friends, Chat, and Inbox.

The Home Screen doesn’t give me access to my newsfeed but it shows me all the recent status updates of my friends.  From here I can quickly update my own status or post a photo.

The You section allows you to see your own profile information, wall, and photos. It’s not that exciting.

For the Friends section, you can quickly page through all of the different friends that you have in Facebook.   This is awesome.  If more of my friends posted their contact info on Facebook, I could see this becoming kind of an Address book in the cloud.  In this section you can also, view your friends photos and write on their walls.

The next section is really cool.  In the Chat tab, you can talk with your friends from your iPhone to their Facebook Chat accounts.

Lastly, you can check your Facebook message inbox.  Nothing to exciting here.

One thing that is noticeably absent is the ability to accept friend requests.  This is something that you can do from the iPhone Web app.

This raises the question.  Why does this need to be an iPhone app?  Other then having access to the camera, which is kind of compelling but not that big of a deal, why does this need to be an iPhone app.

With the Web app, you can actually see the whole newsfeed and not just status updates.  Generally the design seems to be more inlign with what your used to seeing on Facebook.com.  With 3G, the Web app is just as responsive as the software application.

So… why get the Facebook iPhone software app?

Using iPhone GPS in NYC

Now I feel like I’m pretty good at finding my way around cities that I’ve never been to before but I don’t mind an  aid to help me get my bearings.  The iPhone with its maps have been priceless.

What has tipped it over the edge for me has been the GPS.  Not only can I see the whole area but it’ll tell me within 2 blocks where I am.  This rocks.

It’s definitely made it easier for me to navigate NYC with ease.

Congrats to Digg for NOT Making an iPhone App!

Seems like a lot of companies are jumping on the “We have to create an iPhone App bandwagon”, whether it makes sense or not.

Well I want to give my congratulations to Digg.com for resisting the urge.  They have alternatively updated their mobile Web site.

It’s even easier to access Digg on the go with the new mobile version of Digg. This enhanced version – found at m.digg.com – is perfect for phones that support the full web browsing experience, such as a Treo, Blackberry or that new iPhone you just waited in line all morning to get.

That’s right. There is one Web site that will work on a Treo, Blackberry or an iPhone.

Now don’t get me wrong.  There are definitely use cases where it makes more sense to create an iPhone app.  Due to the lack of Flash support for Safari on the iPhone, if you wanna create a game or use audio or video, it’d make more sense to create an iPhone app.

If you wanna use the GPS/Location based services, the camera, or the accelerometer, it’d make more sense to create an iPhone app.  I do ask though… couldn’t standard API calls be created that makes it possible for these to be accessed from the browser?