Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Expanding Social – Why Do Mobile Apps Not Have It All?


For the second time in as many weeks, I expanded my social networks over the weekend. I decided to revisit StumbledUpon, Reddit and Technorati.

Being a big fan of the highly graphical and addictive Pinterest, instantly I was a fan of StumbledUpon. I started “stumbling” great content online, checked out the iTunes store and downloaded the iTunes app, and continued my stumbling without wires.

Had trouble uploading my profile picture on Technorati – a lesser known social network exclusively for blogs. I kept receiving some archaic computer mumble jumble, which I sent to their tech support.

Surprisingly – and much appreciatively – I received a response right away the next day, confirming my username. They are still working on resolving the issue, but they responded quickly – even on a weekend, which is always aces in my book.

I couldn't find a Technorati app in the iTunes store – which was a little disappointing.

Reddit was such a sharp contrast to the highly graphical user interfaces so popular now on Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblr and as I've already mentioned, StumbledUpon.

Reddit was all text, very few images, and the textual menu bars are in the smallest point type, they obviously don’t expect people in my advanced age group to be reading it. I found this really surprising, as Reddit claims to be the front page of the Internet. If that were really true, we’d all still be sitting in front of our televisions, instead of surfing the net in our spare time.

Reddit also was the least user-friendly. I still am not sure how it works, or if it’ll be of any use for me in my social media networking. I should go back and explore it more, but I don’t really want too. It really didn't appeal to me at first blush, and I’ll have to push myself to check it out again.

StumbledUpon really impressed me – I tried it when they first started and was interested, but just didn't really see any value in it.
But now that the social networks are getting more graphical, it really is quite useful, and relevant in today’s social media world.

I began creating lists, adding my ‘Stumbles’ to these lists – I even added links to my StumbledUpon profile in all my online communications – email signature, my blog and others.

But where StumbledUpon falls flat, is where many websites go dark – their mobile apps. Now, I’m still new at this, so it may be I just haven’t played around with StumbledUpon’s iPhone app enough to get a feel for all of it’s hidden treasures.

However, I tried, and tried and TRIED to add the web pages I discovered on the mobile app, to my lists. As much as I tried, I just couldn't do it!

I ended up logging back into the StumbledUpon website, and adding my recent ‘Stumbles’ to my lists from the website version.

How come so many social networking apps just don’t let you do everything you can do on their corresponding websites?

Facebook won’t let me adjust my privacy or account settings (other than the ones directly for the app). HootSuite won’t let me add or use the apps I have installed in the web version into the mobile app version, so I can’t take full advantage of this social networking management tool on the road.

Even Google Plus has slight differences between their web version and their mobile app version, which drive me nuts. When I add a link to my status updates on the web, it automatically includes a thumbnail image from the linked website. Not so when I do the same thing from within the Google Plus iPhone app!

You can tell when I update my G+ status from my iPhone, chances are it doesn't have a graphic linked to it – which sucks because so much of our online world is becoming graphical.

I can sort of understand why some features and functions within the web version of our social networks are not found in their corresponding mobile apps. Maybe Facebook prevents you from being able to change your user and account settings via their mobile app, because they know if you lose your phone or mobile device, someone else can take over your Facebook account?

But why are some of the basic features missing from mobile apps?

The whole point of StumbledUpon is to surf, stumble and sort content. So how come I can’t sort it, by placing my mobile ‘stumbles’ into lists via the app?

It’s not as if mobile devices are new tech – they've been around for several years.

Until the social networking services enable us to do almost everything from their corresponding mobile apps, we’ll be stuck having to go between the mobile app and the full website, just to be social. And that’s not very social.

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