Архив метки: ESPN

Tagwhat’s Virtual Tour Guide Gets A Social ‘Superslider’

tagwhat app

Tagwhat tries to connect online content to real-world locations, and it’s taking that idea step further with a new feature that it calls the Superslider.

Co-founder and CEO Dave Elchoness says that there’s an enormous amount of content on the web that’s related to location but not geotagged — which means that you might completely miss the relevance of a neighborhood or building as you pass through. For example, if you’re traveling to New York and you walk past Katz’s Deli, you might miss out on the fact that it’s the setting for the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in When Harry Met Sally. In fact, I’ve been inside the deli several times without knowing that. (I did watch my friends eat a particularly disgusting meal there, so it wasn’t a total loss.)

To solve that problem, Tagwhat has created a collection of geotagged content (the content is either written by the Tagwhat team and the community, or it’s pulled from publishing partners and open sources like Wikipedia) that you can browse on your iPhone or Android. When you open the app, you’re presented with a selection of notable nearby locations — this afternoon I tried it out from the TechCrunch office, and I was able to read a description of The Creamery coffee shop and the Wikipedia article on the 4th and King Caltrain station. You can narrow search to specific channels like “movies” and “Wikiupedia,” and you can also bring up a map and directions for each entry.

The Superslider adds a social layer to the experience. After all, if you’re interested in reading about a spot, you may also be interested in seeing who else has checked in there, or who’s tweeting about it. And that’s what the Superslider allows — it’s a slider that you can bring up beneath any Tagwhat entry, allowing you to browse and post related content to Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter. The algorithm matching locations to social content works well, but it’s not infallible — when I opened the Superslider for the Creamery, I saw the Creamery’s Facebook page (great!), but most all of the tweets were actually related to other locations, like Coldstone Creamery (less so).

Elchoness says the Superslider will expand over time to include other apps — not just social ones, either. You might be walking past AT&T Park and the Supderslider could bring up the ESPN app showing the latest scores. Ultimately, Elchoness says Tagwhat could become an “app of apps.”

“A lot of folks have been thinking about mobile in the wrong way,” he says. “It needs to be simple and easy to use. No one’s going to be hopping to lots of different apps for very long.”

In addition to the Superslider, Tagwhat has also added a travel log feature, allowing users to mark locations as “been there” and “want to go”, essentially saving those entries in a list for future browsing.

By the way, if the name sounds familiar, it’s because we wrote about Tagwhat back when it was focusing on augmented reality, before the launch of its current apps. You can download the Tagwhat iPhone app here and the Android app here.

Tagwhat’s Virtual Tour Guide Gets A Social ‘Superslider’

Topps: Iconic Trading Cards Brand Goes Beyond Cardboard With First-Ever Mobile Apps

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Topps, the company best known for its Bazooka bubble gum and for essentially inventing and popularizing trading cards in the 1950s, is today releasing its first-ever mobile apps in conjunction with the start of the 2012 Major League Baseball season. That’s right. People of all ages may remember collecting and trading their favorite players’ cards as youngsters, and though trading cards don’t quite enjoy the same level of ubiquity as they did in decades past, Topps’ cards remain iconic for most sports fans.

Over its 60 year history, Topps has moved beyond baseball, not only producing trading cards for all the major sports, but comic books and games as well. Yet if the trading cards and chewing gum company is ever going to get serious about becoming part of the digital era, mobile has to be a part of that strategy. And trading cards may just lend themselves well to a digital reincarnation — or so the company hopes, as today it moves beyond cardboard with the launch of its first iOS apps, Topps BUNT and Topps Pennant.

With its new iOS apps, Topps aims to leverage the sizable inventory of statistics, images, facts, and figures it has developed over the years, combining the history of the game with modern tech. Topps Pennant, the company tells us, presents a “modern box score” on both the iPhone and iPad, allowing fans to recreate more than 60 years of baseball — every team, season, game, and play going back to 1952.

Topps Pennant enables baseball fans to view box scores and live play-by-play of games from this season as well as from over 115K games from the past. While this is something that ESPN and others have been doing now for quite some time, Topps offers users the ability to view its exhaustive catalog of historical stats in good-looking, interactive infographics. The company has taken its time in developing apps that leverage all the capabilities of the iPad, so that even if you already have an app you use for box scores, this one’s worth checking out.

Topps BUNT, the company’s second iOS app, aims to bring fans a more user-friendly, accessible version of fantasy baseball, with a social game meant to act as a companion to the ongoing baseball season. As to how it works? Users create an account with Facebook or Twitter, pick a name and a personalized avatar, and then choose nine of their favorite players.

Users earn points based on how well those players perform, competing against other players, with scores being presented in a giant, multi-zone leaderboard. Users also get to check out game updates to track how their players are performing on the field in realtime, and trade the players that are batting below the Mendoza line.

Topps BUNT is really designed to be fantasy baseball for more casual fans, those who aren’t ready to commit to the more demanding, 162-game fantasy season. The team describes it as a mix between fantasy baseball, and popular iOS apps Turntable.fm and Draw Something. Having tested it out, the app definitely offers a fun, quirky baseball experience that could appeal to younger fans, especially those having grown up in the ubiquity of casual, Facebook-based social games.

To help bring its brand into the smartphone era, Topps hired the former Head of Product at Nokia (and five-year product veteran at Microsoft) Michael Bramlage. The VP of Digital tells us that, in the sports media landscape, most of the apps out there are from broadcasters or the leagues themselves, so that once fans get past MLB and ESPN apps, there’s not a lot quality outside of geeky, fantasy baseball apps. In other words, apps for the number crunchers and serious fans.

In my experience, this is true; there’s plenty of room for new and better ways to explore stats and interact with the game, especially for younger audiences who spend a lot of their time on mobile devices. For MLB.com, for example, more than 50 percent of traffic emanates from mobile.

Topps is leveraging its close relationship with the MLB Players Association and unique archive of player data and photos to go after newer, more casual fans in what Bramage calls a big “game mechanics play.” In that sense, Topps is not just looking to digitize baseball cards. The company put a lot of research into what cards represented to baseball fans emotionally and is reconstituting the figurative elements on the iPad — not just porting, but trying to re-imagine what player cards will mean to a younger generation.

In terms of the apps, Topps Pennant will be priced at $3.99 for a universal app that includes optimized versions for iPhone and iPad. However, Apple is currently running a launch special that puts the app at $2.99. Topps BUNT is available for free (on the iPad).

For more, check out Topps at home here, or the videos on the apps below:

Topps: Iconic Trading Cards Brand Goes Beyond Cardboard With First-Ever Mobile Apps

OnSports Mobile App Battles Its Way Up A Tough League Ahead Of The Super Bowl


Most popular mobile sports apps are trying to feed you scores and news, or show you fantasy numbers. OnSports, by HitPost, is in a smaller class of apps that’s focused on users running the discussion themselves. And now, ahead of the Super Bowl this Sunday, viral growth and featured spots on the Android Market and the iTunes App Store are helping it step up against larger competitors.

The app, which lets users make their own reports and polls with professional photos, is now #2 on the Android Market free sports app section, and climbed to #13 in the iTunes version of the category since yesterday. This has translated to around 50,000 daily active users, chief executive Aaron Krane tells me, with 60% of new users returning within 24 hours. He says the app, which makes it easy to share activity to Facebook and Twitter, is generating 30,000 posts to Facebook each day, and 300 tweets per hour on Twitter. OnSports is also sending about 3000 SMS messages per day.

Some of these metrics are of the vanity variety — and they’re certainly not of the scale of social mobile games — but they all indicate an engaged group of core users, in an immature category of mobile usage.

Most significant sports apps, including ones from ESPN and major sports leagues, are focused on broadcasting scores and professional news to users; while they may have social features for commenting and sharing, the focus is not as heavily about user interaction. However, Bleacher Report and SB Nation — two web sites that rely on user-generated content — also have mobile apps. The influx of user web content into devices makes them more immediate competitors.

OnSports is notably sticking to the thesis of being mobile first… that users will want to do to more and more of their social activity on the devices they carry around with them rather than their computers. The company has been trying to figure out exactly how to make this idea materialize over the last year or so. With the new visibility to users ahead of the biggest sporting event of the year, it could be on its way to winning in the big leagues of consumer mindshare.

OnSports Mobile App Battles Its Way Up A Tough League Ahead Of The Super Bowl

Foursquare Adds Restaurant Menus, What About Food Check Ins?


Less than a week after unveiling the Explore section of its website, Foursquare announced a nice addition — restaurant menus.

The Foursquare mobile app has included an “Explore” tab for while now, but last week’s announcement marked its expansion into a full-blown city guide, personalized based on your check ins and those of your friends. Foursquare called it a “big leap” toward its vision of “adding an ‘interesting’ layer to your whole world,” while TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis suggested it was a return to CEO Dennis Crowley’s roots as a product manager at mobile city guide Vindigo.

Now, Foursquare says it has partnered with startup SinglePlatform to add menus and pricing information for almost 250,000 restaurants in Explore. This seems like a pretty natural addition, and a way to make Explore a viable alternative to a site like Yelp. (It seems only appropriate that Foursquare is becoming more Yelp-like, since Yelp took a page from Foursquare by adding user check ins.) Menus are now live on the Foursquare’s PC and mobile websites, and the company says it will be adding them to the mobile app soon.

I’m also curious if Foursquare can do more with this menu data. What about allowing users to include exactly what they plan to eat as part of their check in? After all, the company is already partnering with ESPN, MovieTickets, and Songkick to allow users to check-in to specific sports events, movies, and concerts, and startups like Foodspotting are already exploring the appeal of sharing what you’re eating.

On the other hand, the food check in model isn’t quite as natural as checking in to a movie. You might check-in somewhere without knowing what you’re going to order, and you’re probably going to order more than one item from the menu. But it could be a fun feature if done right.

Foursquare Adds Restaurant Menus, What About Food Check Ins?

Pulse Scores Key Spot On Kindle’s Home Shelf; Co-founder Says It May Pass 10M Users This Year

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So the Kindle Fire shipped Monday, and the early reviews are out in full force. The reactions, as per usual, are varied. But, for what it’s worth, The Fire is already the best-selling item on Amazon, and many are now saying that the eCommerce giant could sell 5 million of its new devices by the end of the year. No, it’s not an iPad killer, but people are excited by the Kindle’s touch and Android-based evolution, and at $200 there’s no doubt Amazon is going to sell more than a few.

But what’s more interesting (at least to me) than the potential growth of Amazon’s market cap should the Kindle sell like hot cakes, or Apple looking over its shoulder, is how Kindle sales could be a huge victory for one of the little guys.

Pulse, as many are now familiar, is a suped up RSS-style newsfeed aggregator built for the tablet generation. Thanks to its touch-based interface (easy swiping/scrolling), clean design, and visual appeal, the app has gotten a lot of play on the iPad and on Honeycomb. The startup has also struck a number of strategic partnerships with big media outlets, like ESPN, and with deal sites like Groupon.

Now, Pulse’s prospects are even more bright, as the app has been chosen by Amazon as one of the few native, pre-installed apps to be featured on the Kindle Fire. When a Kindle user visits the device’s home shelf, there are four apps that appear to be native on the device: IMDB, Pulse, Facebook, and the Amazon Store. There are 15 more apps in the tab, ten of which are pre-installed and five of which are “suggested” apps, which users have to actively download. Most of the installed apps are things like Contacts, eMail, Audible, Gallery, Help, for example.

Considering Facebook’s Kindle app is actually just a web app that wasn’t even fully designed by Facebook (clicking on it just takes you to m.facebook.com), and Amazon owns IMDB, and, yes, the Amazon Store, that makes Pulse one of the few native apps on the Kindle Fire — and really the only non-Facebook/Amazon native app on the device.

In its blog post today, Pulse said that it is in fact “the only app to be pre-loaded on the device upon shipping”. Obviously, that’s not exactly true, and the post has since been amended to read “one of the only apps to be pre-loaded on the device upon shipping”, but the point remains.

It’s a somewhat surprising vote of confidence from Amazon, which has basically made Pulse the official news reader for its own device that is, by definition, a reader. Of course, the Kindle Fire has a whole lot of new functionality that takes it beyond the “reader” of old and into multimedia, but it’s still a Kindle.

More importantly, the device’s newsstand is front-and-center, but most of the content therein you’ll have to pay for to consume. This makes Pulse the de facto free option for news reading, and as long as the app’s user experience is strong enough to hold users’ attention, it’s going to get a lot of eyeballs.

Furthermore, when Pulse is juxtaposed with the other front-and-center apps (IMDB, Facebook) and the suggested apps to download (Pandora, Weather Channel, ESPN, to name a few) — one gets a further sense of why this is so huge for Pulse. IMDB rakes in 100 million unique visitors per month, Facebook has 800 million global users, Pandora has a market cap of over $2 billion, and ESPN is, well, ESPN.

Pulse, in comparison, was just debuting on the iPad in May of last year and has only raised about $10 million in outside funding. That’s on the higher side for a startup founded less than two years ago, but against the backdrop of the entire industry and Kindle’s home shelf heroes, that’s peanuts.

So, again, whether or not The Fire truly competes head-to-head with the iPad doesn’t really matter — even if the Kindle’s sales were to stop dead at 1 million, that’s still 1 million potential new Pulse users.

“We started the year with under 1 million users”, Pulse Co-founder Akshay Kothari told Bloomberg on Tuesday, “and we’ll probably end the year with over 10 million users”. In any other circumstances, that kind of statement would cause some serious eye-rolling or jaw dropping, but if the Kindle Fire takes off, that projection may even be modest. (Today, Pulse is at 7 million users.)

And put in perspective, Foursquare, which TechCrunch writes about seemingly every other day, just hit 10 million users in June (27 months after launch) and has raised over $70 million.

So, while the Kindle Fire stands to be a money-making machine for Amazon, it seems that for Pulse, it could be pure gold.

Pulse Scores Key Spot On Kindle’s Home Shelf; Co-founder Says It May Pass 10M Users This Year