I just got my first iPod Touch, and suffice it to say that I’m officially hooked. In fact, I’m more than hooked. In less than 24 hours, I’ve effectively decided that lugging around a Blackberry Curve with the wonderful Touch is too much, and that I need an iPhone. Leslie called the iPod Touch a gateway drug, and I couldn’t agree more.
Of course, now that I have an Apple Touch device, my first move was to jump on the Apps store and look for all the mobile social networking applications I could find. I have to say, I was a little disappointed. There just weren’t the plethora of applications I expected to find.
That isn’t to say I didn’t find some great tools. First off, the Facebook app for the iPhone and iPod Touch is simply stunning. It is far superior to its counterpart for Blackberry. If I wasn’t already a Facebook junkie (and I was), I’m probably a lost cause, as it will now be fused to my hip in waking and sleeping.
I also found a fantastic Twitter platform called TwitterFon, a FREE app that, in my opinion, bests any offering I’ve seen thus far either for mobile phones or computer platforms. You’ll probably hear me harping on “free” for quite some time, as I’m sure there are many great mobile apps available for all mobile phones, but it seems some developers feel the need to charge for their creations. I’m all for paying for apps that are well-developed, but there aren’t any trial opportunities for many apps that could be very good…in that sense, developers lose out because many won’t be willing to pay for something they’re not sure of, and consumers lose out because they’re more apt to stick with free apps than apps that might very well be superior.
Also, I installed the Yelp! app to my iPod Touch. Though it’s far from perfect, it’s a nice addition to anyone’s mobile device as it offers great search and localizing functionality for finding activities, restaurants and businesses in your area. Today I searched for Starbucks, and found one 1.5 miles away; when I clicked “Google Maps” to get directions from my house, Google didn’t know the location existed. Luckily I already knew where it was. The point being, it isn’t perfect but it’s better than not having it.
And yet, I still find myself less than enthused with the current plight of mobile social networking. Why? Because, dear friends, the mobile social networking world is in serious need of multiple cross-platform social aggregators. By cross-platform, I mean available with every major cellular carrier in the U.S, and by social aggregator, I mean a platform that ties in most of the best and most popular social networking and media sites like Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr and others. Though it’s all well and good to update each application separately, it just isn’t time effective to type out the same message for all your different services.
I was surprised to find no evidence of a FriendFeed application for the iPhone/iPod Touch. Though it isn’t my favorite computer-based aggregator, I think it would be a huge hit on mobile platforms. I’m familiar with what is currently the most widely-used aggregator for the iPhone, Blackberry, and other platforms — Loopt — but I find it lacking.
It does seem to be a perfectly fine social locator that integrates Facebook and Twitter, but if that’s it, there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement. If you can use it, give it a try and see whether it fits your needs. But it isn’t the be-all end-all to me.
There are options, and mobile social networking has certainly come a long way from where it was even a couple years ago. But competition between developers, and more so carriers, has effectively stunted the growth and restricted the adoption of universal mobile social networking. For now, the best offerings seem to be available on the iPhone and the G1 (T-Mobile), and some of Samsung’s latest phones with the TouchWiz interface have some interesting (albeit limited) social applications. For now, Facebook and Twitter seem to be the two big platforms, and your best bet is to find an app that suits your needs for each of those platforms.