Monday, 28 January 2013

killer apps - vivino iPhone & android app, snooth iphone

Wine mobile apps

Lifestyle apps do not come more fun than wine apps; while wine can be an exquisite and esoteric affair, there is such a variety and quality of wines available now at all price ranges that, at least here in the UK, where the market is very competitive, and a huge amount of economies of scale in terms of shipping, there is no excuse to not get involved.

Wine Mobile App history

Until recently, the main apps have been the high end likes of Vertu's Berry Brothers and Rudd app and for the rest of us, snooth and a handful of others, however they have not grabbed me for one key reason: the social aspect! Yep, you got it, wine is a social affair, and as such I have just resorted to posting labels on Facebook  emailing certain friends and storing the photos of labels for my own recollection in a folder called, well what else: wines...
The social aspect of lifestyle apps is key: we seldom enjoy life's pleasure alone!
So I then found Vivino for Android, and Vivino for iPhone, yes, via someone posting on Facebook; just like the world found Doodle Jump, Angry Birds, Foursquare (I sense a trend!) and was instantly hooked, scanned 5 or 6 bottles in my store (I cannot call it a cellar, as, well, it is not a cellar!) of wines and invited others to join.

Community & Social key for killer apps

Even more important were two things throughout the experience so far (the weekend); firstly; I did not get the feeling I had to go pro immediately, which I did with Snooth (only to be then slightly disappointed) ; secondly I added a label, could not find it and had to go pro to search the database. This I understand. However a day or so later, I have an update and somebody has manually added my wine to the database - nice! This community sense is key to the mobile app model.
Building a profile is simple with Vivino, unfound bottles get updated by the community!
Having my collective virtual "cellar" with notes is quite handy, while to date, searching other people's cellar has been frustrating to annoying (long story, but involved a dodgy merlot...) but then I do only have one friend so far (you know who you are!).

The only downsides to this app, that have held back other wine apps for me are the fact that wine seems to moving quicker than many of the:
  1. not being able to edit some of the wider elements community style, even if after approval; like for example, I have a strong steer to big, bold full bodied wines that lend themselves to red meat, which can be seen above, yet the food pairing recommendation still had the very outdated recommendation of "suited to pork". Just as well I am not a Rioja and Ribera drinking person of 2 certain faiths that do not eat pork!
  2. having a list of grapes in the bottle is good, but not having a % is not - the subtle additions of Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano to the main Tempranillo base can have a huge impact on how well a Rioja will age and/or be ready for drinking!
  3. The old temperature issue - while thank god we have moved away from the "room temperature" model to the fridge, whether its 15 mins or not will depend on the fridge, the previous room temperature and other points. Moreover
I think the best way out of this is moderated community additions? I will be upgrading to pro and will update, but in the meantime, these are the next issues that need to be tackled with these apps.
Grape % would be useful, at the moment all Spanish wines appear to be paired with pork!
These are small gripes, with an otherwise great app, and will now substitute my random posting of pictures of bottles on social networks...

Antisocial drinking apps

When will people learn that creating a community on just one OS does not work! Facebook and twitter check-in is the other key feature that has made Pintererst to Foursquare via Instagram before it was bought (...and did the whole T&Cs debacle). I do not want to create another account on another app!
Snooth: another apps that thinks people need yet another login!
Another key for Vivino is that it is on Android as well; more and more people have a mixed OS tablet/smartphone mix and even a dual smartphone mix and the market has seen iPhoners switch to Android and vice versa: you need to be on both platforms at least to succeed. Any premium app, especially one at the £2.99 end that has not yet adapted to the iPhone5 screen size  six months on almost demands a refund!

Social drinking apps on the other hand, could become the next foursquare????

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

killer apps iphone ipad - Samsung smart tv iphone remote app

The Samsung remote is an app I have been looking at for a while, ever since Samsung phones allowed "sending" video to TVs and then Apple TV came out a few months later back in 2009ish.

However, until the recent update they always felt a bit like someone had a tick in a box for an app to say "we have an app for that" and that's it. While it is still not as good as, for example, the Sling TV remote experience, they have come a long way and can actually function if you cannot find the remote: Before this you would actually spend a bit of time finding the remote, I say this especially as, while the 3rd generation ipad version worked OK, the version on the iPhone 5 crashed too often to use, at least on my iPhone 5.

The first screen you get is this one, which on first view is not great, however you then realise it has all the buttons you need for the most times you will use this remote: for ad-hoc adjustments to sound when you cannot be bothered getting up/finding the remote.
No iPhone 5 format yet but at least it works
Apart from not being iPhone 5 formatted, the only other issue is the fact that you need to authorise the app every time you use it: guess how? Yep, with the remote the app is supposed to replace anyway. This is a key update that is needed ASAP - one auth, once. If you must have a pop-up, have one saying "this tv is being controlled by..." and have the ability to stop it - if you have annoying people in the house, of any age...

The ability to exit menus, etc is done my using the "simple" tab, which seems strange, but at least makes this function always easy to find, whereas if it were scrolled on the "full" tab it may take more finding.
"simple" menu lets you access menus / settings
So onto the "killer" part, which is the "full" menu: Here you can control pretty much anything, scrolling up and down between the screens
The Screen that gets you around the smart hub
The other of the screens is really all your need, and probably could be the first tab in itself to simplify the app?
The main screen that gets you into smart hub and  main controls
For the more analogue among you, you can still use the following two menus to channel hop and,
Old school channel and source selection

control video and recording and other things you may still do with your TV
old school blah control for ... other things
So why is it a killer app? well, its actually been very well thought out, despite that not being immediately obvious. For those of you who have worked with Koreans, you will notice a lot of Korean thought process in the layout here, which is no bad thing and is very easy to get used to, albeit not the normal layout of other remote controls which have clearly been approached from a Western European or Northern American UE perspective. With the addition of being remembered (at the moment each session requires the real remote to accept the app) and programmable buttons, so I can remove "family story" (don't bother!) and have short-cuts to really useful Smart Hub content like iPlayer, Spotify, Redbull TV, etc this app would be top killer app.