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  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 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 – 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?

When you shouldn’t create an iPhone app…

So… yesterday, when I found the link to get early access to the iPhone 2.0 software, of course I tried it and loaded it up right away.  (Yes, I am that guy.)

I then proceeded to download a bunch of apps to my phone.

Now there are just some apps that I don’t get why they are apps.  For example, there is Facebook and the New York Times.  Their iPhone apps are almost exactly the same as their iPhone Web site.

As the implementations of mobile Web browsers improve across mobile phones, increasing the use of new Web technologies (better CSS and JavaScript), there is a chance you’ll be able to use the iPhone Web site again.

I can’t imagine that Apple will ever license the iPhone OS so you’ll never be able to see your iPhone app used on anything but an iPhone.

Now I can understand Sega’s Super Monkeyball.  That is a REALLY fun game for the iPhone.  I can’t imagine you’ll be able to do that with a browser for a long long long time so I understand if you wanna make that an iPhone app.

But… why does Twitteriffic need to be an iPhone app? Didn’t we get EXACTLY the same thing with Hahlo?  Actually, I think Hahlo has more and better functionality.

With iPhone 3G, a lot of the speed, responsiveness, and interactivity issues with iPhone Web sites should be resolved.

Yeah… so when you start to think about time and resources around whether your company should build an iPhone app, ask yourself whether or not you’re doing it because it’s cool or you’ll get a lot of people to use it.

Am I crazy?  What do you think?

iPhone Web Apps vs iPhone Software Apps

On Monday, geeks from around the world watched with baited breath as Apple CEO Steve Jobs, in addition to announcing the 3G iPhone, gave a status update on iPhone 2.0 which will include 3rd party software apps.

They software apps they demo’d were awesome and showed the amazing breadth of what you’ll be able to do with the iPhone.

BUT… I wonder if all this interest in creating 3rd party software apps for the iPhone will quell interest in creating Web apps.

While the promise of iPhone software apps leaves me with glee, it also kind of bums me out.  Why would you want to create something that can only be used on device?

I can’t imagine that Apple will ever license their iPhone software out to other hardware manufacturers.  If you make a software app for the iPhone, it will always stay on the iPhone.

While the promise of the Web is that if the browser makers and the Web publishers both adhere to standards, you’ll have no problem using the content or application no matter what device your on.

The biggest problem with Web apps on the iPhone 1.0 was that the connection was too slow.  You really desired for better interactivity and response when you did something.  Well, having 3G in the iPhone should fix a lot of this.

I wonder if just like with the computer, where we saw a generation of apps first start off as software and then move to the Web (mail, office productivity), if we’ll see the same with mobile and the iPhone.

What do you think? If you were to create an app for the iPhone would you do it as a software or a Web app?  If software, are you comfortable with being so silo’d?

W3C releases a Web Compatibility Test for Mobile Browsers

This is really cool.  The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Mobile Web Initiative (MWI) has just release as Web Compatibility Test for Mobile Browsers. It tests against compatibility with twelve different Web technologies.

Point your phone’s browser to:

If you see twelve green boxes, your mobile browser has passed the test.

Here’s hoping that this compatibility test will cause the same level of competition among mobile browser vendors as the release of Acid 3 did for desktop browser vendors.

In NYC, My iPhone Was My Best Friend

Me walking through NYC

Last Wednesday,  I popped up to New York City to fill in for our CEO, where he was scheduled to speak at a conference.  I had never to be to NYC before so I especially jumped at the opportunity.

In NYC, I felt pretty overwhelmed.  Everything is way bigger and more packed then Washington DC.  Felt like if you stopped on the side walk for more then 5 seconds you were going to get run over.  Yet, I needed to be able to find my way around.

My iPhone quickly became my best friend.

To be able to pull up Google Maps was amazing!  With the triangulation feature, it was able to pull up where I was and use that as a base for the search.  I could find a landmark or place super quickly.

I felt like I could maneuver my way through NYC without much of a problem.

It really demonstrated to me the power of having the Web in your pocket.

iPhone SDK DevCamp???

At WidgetDevCamp, I floated the idea of doing a iPhone SDK Dev Camp. Seems like there was some interest for it then.

Now that the Apple iPhone SDK is out, I’ve already gotten a few folks asking about it. One of the reasons I thought this would be cool is because it’s so new we’d all be starting at the same place.

Drop me a comment if you’d wanna attend this event.

Real Video On-Demand

On Friday, I was walking out the door on my way to work and I realized that I hadn’t seen this week’s episode of LOST yet.  I stopped what I was doing ran over to my computer, bought LOST on Apple iTunes, and waited 15 minutes as it downloaded.  I then put it on my iPhone and went about my merry way.

Seems like things just aren’t where they need to be.

I’d get a season pass to LOST on iTunes but I only use laptops and I’m always running out of space on my hard drives.

I want some type of easy media server type of solution that will hold all of my media but when I sync my laptop and my iPhone I can pull media off of the server and put it on my iPhone.

It’d also be nice if there was a way to buy TV shows on the fly from the iPhone so that while I was walking to the subway it could have been downloading.  It’d also be nice if my phone could pull TV shows off of my media server.  I know with current cellular technology this isn’t possible but it’d be nice.