Архив метки: Robert Scoble

Foursquare And Glancee Are Cool, But Here’s Why I’m So Excited About Using Highlight At SXSW

Austin Sunrise

The crowds and hype of South By Southwest make the massive Austin tech and media conference the perfect place for launching, well, any sort of app that needs crowds and hype to break out of tech circles and into the mainstream. So what can we expect to blow up next week, like Twitter, Foursquare, GroupMe and Beluga have in past years?

Highlight is what I’m placing my bets on — and not for what it is today, but for what it could become. That is, the long-sought replacement for business cards.

The new background location app got my attention at the beginning of February because it made it easy for me to find old friends and meet new ones without the friction of checking in. But some of you are going to prefer Glancee, because it has a tighter privacy focus, a subtle but smart algorithm for matching to nearby friends, and a beautiful design. Other people are likely to just stick to Foursquare — which is killing it these days — or maybe just Facebook Messenger (which Beluga became). Or maybe one of the dozens of other location apps that have their own ideas (or cloned ideas) for how to connect people in close proximity.

Relentless early adopter Robert Scoble has also taken a close look at each, and last weekend declared them the up-and-comers at SXSW this year. I agree — and actually meant to write a post about it, but he beat me to the punch ( for you, Scoble).

In an in-depth article for The Next Web last weekend, he sketched out three key reasons why these apps are special. By having them turned on and running in the background of your phone, they can help you find people to hang out with, learn more about nearby strangers, and tell you when your real friends are near.

All true, but there’s something bigger going on. These apps are enabling types of long-term connections that nothing else has yet, which in some ways is like remote contact sharing service Bump. This vision hasn’t manifested itself yet, but you can see the signs in the update that Highlight in particular says it’s going to push next week.

Check out what founder Paul Davison said on Thursday, when he announced his new funding round.

We want Highlight to make Austin even more fun for you – by surprising you with hidden connections, surfacing information about the people you meet, and helping you remember these people when you bump into them at a random New York coffee shop a year later.

Wait, what? Wasn’t he just supposed to be talking about South by Southwest? No. He’s talking about building a new social network on top of Facebook, the key source of user data for both his app and Glancee. This is what is going to make Austin so interesting next week. Highlight could create new value for users when they go back home, and that’s what fundamentally needs to happen when we all take our hungover flights back home.

Instead of the normal business card swapping that happens at the event, it’s sounding like Highlight is going to get some sort of feature for marking and saving the favorite people you meet in person. Thinking through the New York coffee shop scenario, imagine seeing a notification that says “You met Robert Scoble at the Trendy Startup BBQ party in Austin. Now he’s two blocks away at a bagel place. Go say hi!” Instead of just using mutual friends and Liked Facebook pages to determine relevancy, Highlight is getting a new layer of behavior data.

Now indulge a little bit of speculation about where all this could go (I don’t know Highlight’s specific plans). You can also imagine the app adding features like an auto-created group or list of “Friends From Austin.” A few weeks after the conference, what if you could see a list of all of these people and message them through Highlight to reconnect. And because Highlight uses Facebook data, it could also tap into the social network to allow users to share the phone numbers, email addresses and other contact info they already have stored. I would love a feature that said “Robert Scoble is sharing his contact info, click here to download it to your address book.”

And boom, business cards would be dead. Forget stuffing your pockets full of cardboard at a party, going back home, throwing them on your hotel room dresser as you pass out, and forgetting them when you have to rush out the next morning to catch your flight. You’d just mark the people you want to stay connected to right when you meet them, and then at your convenience connect with them later.

Here’s a little more evidence for that sort of experience. As I’ve used Highlight in San Francisco over the past month or so, I’ve found myself scrolling through to see who’s nearby, ignoring any messages from interesting people as I continue working, and then going back hours or days later — and geographically far from where I’d made the connection — and continuing the conversation. As I’ve said before, this has already connected me with old friends, introduced me to new people, and gotten me stories for my job.

So hang on to your phones, folks, because they’re going to be all you need to create a new and lasting network of friends.

[Top photo of Austin skyline via StuSeeger.]

Note: One of Highlight’s new investors is the CrunchFund. And while the partners are friends, and its largest limited partner is our parent company, AOL, I have no financial stake in the firm and TechCrunch only covers its investments when we think they’re good (not all of them) — same as any other investor who we know. Feel free to discuss with me in the comments. 

Foursquare And Glancee Are Cool, But Here’s Why I’m So Excited About Using Highlight At SXSW

Facebook’s iPad App Was Feature Complete In May, But They Won’t Release It, So The Developer Quit


You may recall that two months ago, we found and leaked Facebook’s iPad app. What was especially awesome is that the entire app was buried in the code for Facebook’s iPhone app, you just had to do a few tricks to enable it. Once Facebook realized what we found, they took moves to try and shut it down. But it was too late. The app was out there, and looked pretty close to complete. In fact, it turns out it was feature complete at that point.

On his personal blog today, developer Jeff Verkoeyen reveals that Facebook’s iPad app has been feature complete since May. How does he know? He built it. He was the lead engineer on the project. He had been working on it for 8 solid months — sometimes as much as 80 hours a week, he says, to get it done in time. But Facebook’s definition of “in time” kept shifting, Verkoeyen says. And that led him to quit the social network, and join rival Google.

Here’s one key blurb:

It is now nearly 5 months since the app was feature complete and I haven’t seen it released except for when the project was leaked on Techcrunch. Needless to say this was a frustrating experience for me. The experience of working on this app was a large contribution to the reasons why I left Facebook, though that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a difficult decision.

So yes, what you saw in our leak was the real deal. That was the app Facebook intended to release — but still hasn’t. The original plan was to launch it around May, Verkoeyen notes. Then that was push until JuneJuly, as the New York Times’ Nick Bilton reported back then. Then there were whispers of f8 last week — but that obviously didn’t happen either.

So what’s going on?

Here’s the other key blub:

You probably saw the app when it was infamously leaked via Techcrunch. It was feature-complete by then and for reasons I won’t go into details on the app was repeatedly delayed throughout the summer.

For the past couple of months, we’ve been hearing something that would seem to line up with Verkoeyen’s statement. Specifically, the “details” he won’t go into are related to the relationship between Facebook and Apple, we hear.

The two sides have been at odds ever since the launch of Apple’s Ping music social network last year. Facebook was originally supposed to be a key part of that launch, then full integration was pulled at the last minute. The same is true with iOS. Apple and Facebook had been working together to bring a deep integration of the social network into iOS 5, then it was killed — Apple went with Twitter instead. With all of these things, the reason for the split were said to be over “terms” that Apple didn’t like.

But Apple has always wanted Facebook to release an iPad app. The Facebook iPhone app is the most downloaded app of all time. And there are countless third-party Facebook iPad apps that are amongst the top downloads all time, even though most aren’t very good. At first, Facebook wasn’t going to focus on the iPad. Then they decided to, but they also realized the app could be used as leverage in their dealings with Apple. That’s what we believe has been going on over the past several months.

The story goes even deeper when you consider Project Spartan. (And I should note, there’s some confusion within Facebook about that name. Some say they don’t use it, but the third-party developers involved may. Either way, I’m talking about the giant HTML5 platform project that Facebook is working on.) At first, the project was meant to target iOS specifically, to make sure that Facebook apps re-written in HTML5 could work on the mobile Safari browser. One key to this is Credits — if Facebook can do HTML5 and not native apps, they can get around Apple’s terms for in-app purchase cuts.

The bigger key is simply control. Apple controls a mobile platform, Facebook does not. They’ll never admit this — and they go out of their way to deny it without denying it — but Facebook does not want to be at the mercy of another company, whether it’s Apple or Google, etc. With that in mind, in recent weeks, the scope of the HTML5 project has expanded to include Android and even the desktop.

And now there are whispers of something else going on.

There isn’t much to go on here just yet, but we’ve been hearing that Facebook and Apple may now be working together on the HTML5 project. Maybe it’s because Apple hates Google that much, or maybe it’s because they realize that HTML5 apps are still no real threat to the native app movement. Or maybe they want Facebook’s wildly popular social games to run inside of Facebook’s apps — including the iPad app. If this is indeed the case, negotiations may still be underway. That could be why we haven’t seen either Spartan or the iPad app yet, even though both are done.

Either way, Verkoeyen himself is done. He’s now at Google, working happily on their mobile team.

Update: I spoke with Verkoeyen who wanted to clarify a few things. First and foremost, while the app was feature-complete in May, it was not totally done, he says. While he hasn’t been working on it for a some time, others have been, to get it ready. The version that leaked was one iteration, but not the final product, he says.

He also wanted to reiterate that his going to Google was not a reflection on Facebook. He says he loved the time he spent there, but that he was ready for something new. As for the long hours he worked on the app, “I genuinely enjoyed the time I spent working on that. In no way was I trying to lash out at Facebook,” he says.

He declined to comment on the Facebook/Apple relationship and how that plays into all of this.

Update 2: Ben Parr of Mashable is reporting that the iPad app will launch at Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5 event. Robert Scoble reported on this last week as well.

Launch Date:
January 2, 2004

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 500 million users.

Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004, initially as an exclusive network for Harvard students. It was a huge hit: in 2 weeks, half of the schools in the Boston area began demanding a Facebook network. Zuckerberg immediately recruited his friends Dustin Moskowitz and Chris Hughes to help build Facebook, and within four months, Facebook added 30 more college networks.

The original idea for the term…

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Facebook’s iPad App Was Feature Complete In May, But They Won’t Release It, So The Developer Quit