Tag Archives: app

app review: color = better concept than execution

Say you’re getting ready to host an alumni reunion or open house event, and you’d like your visitors to create a community-driven photo album. This is, in theory, possible with the Color geosocial photo application. But good luck making it work easily.

Ed Tatton of Westchester Community College and Greg Kie of SUNY Canton talked a few of us attending the SUNYCUAD Conference earlier this month into trying to create just such a photo album. You’d think people who work in web communication and/or social media for a living could figure this out with little difficulty. Ah, not so much.

The resulting community album (see active view. above right) took a lot of work. Taking the picture is easy enough: Just open the app and click on the color wheel (center button, colored when you’re in camera mode). But for a social application, the real difficulty comes when you try to get, you know, social.

For what seemed like an hour, about a half-dozen people who work on the web for a living had great difficulty creating a community album. I created any number of albums no one could join and that I couldn’t delete. Finally, after seemingly doing the same thing over and over, something worked and suddenly we had a shared album. You can see the results of a couple of days of fiddling at right. As for the buttons along the bottom: The map icon stands for “take photos together” (if you can figure out how to do it), the globe means “see all your albums” (for a globe?), the color wheel means take the picture, the calendar means “view your albums by day” and the envelope means “messages you’ve received” (i.e. likes and comments).

Note that you cannot friend anyone for a permanent relationship, which — given the appeal of enriched connections in social media — seems an oversight. After you take a photo, you can press a paper-airplane icon to share it by Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or SMS. Yes, that’s OR, not and.

Looking at Instragram, which I consider a great geosocial photo app, the competition isn’t even close. Instagram encourages you to find and friend contacts, and offers easy ways to do so. When you take a picture, you can share it simultaneously via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare AND Posterous (if you want). While the geolocation feature with Instagram is still buggy for me, you can create an album via hashtag — as the #pancaketweetup album at right shows. Instragram’s menu includes helpful words that break things down very simply: Feed, Popular, Share, News and Profile, and submenus are intuitive as well. Interaction via comments and likes are very easy.

All apps have to start somewhere, and Color does bring a good concept to the table. That it is difficult to come together at that table with others is unfortunate — since connections and content are the currency of social media — but maybe the app’s developers will figure a way for its execution to improve.

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instagram: a picture-perfect social media tool?

The women's hockey team prepping for a big game, as told via Instagram filter.

Many folks — including me — have developed a new social media obsession with Instagram, an app based on photos and connectivity. The free app captures the appeals of people looking to tell stories via taking, editing and posting pictures … while commenting on and connecting with others doing the same.

I could share how close I was sitting to the stage for our student honors production.

I could share how close I was sitting to the stage for our student honors production.

At the most basic level, Instagram is photographing and filtering software. When taking iPhone pics via Instagram, I appear to gain greater iris control and focusing flexibility. When you take the photo, you can apply one of a number of filtering tools — which make it look like anything from an old Polaroid to washed-out contact sheet to monochrome. The filters may not quite as cool as paid app Hipstamatic, but quite a few add more flair and visual appeal to photos. It could be better integrated — clicking on a photo posted to Facebook whisks you to the nothing-special Instagram site — but I wouldn’t be surprised if more improvements appear on the horizon.

I like the washed-out old-photo filter a lot.

I like the washed-out old-photo filter a lot.

But the really neat part is the ability to share it within — and outside of — the Instagram community. After you take a photo and apply (or don’t) a filter, you can post it Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr and/or Foursquare in one fell swoop. It even offers its own location-based option. And by default, pictures are shared with the Instagarm community. Looking through my Instagram feed on a recent night, I felt like part of a greater narrative of what people were doing. Even though my Instagram community is small for now, members were out watching two college hockey games, enjoying a romantic night in, reveling through a night out, spending quality time with the kids and exploring artistic endeavors. As a body of work, it’s a compelling snapshot (sorry) of a few hours of 21st century life.

Looking through the lens (sorry again) of the 5+1 Keys to Social Media Platform Adoption, Instagram posts some high scores:

  • Usefulness: Allows you to take, edit and share photos in a novel way; lets you enjoy pics from others.
  • Usability: Very simple. Its basic menu is five buttons: Feed, Popular, Share (where you take photos), News and Profile — pretty intuitive.
  • User Interactivity: You can comment on or like photos friends post. Not sure if other friends are using it? You can easily look through your Facebook and Twitter contacts. Want to make new friends? Browse the popular pics and follow those whose styles or activities you enjoy.
  • Sharability: Great sharing options to five popular platforms as well as within the Instagram community.
  • Sustainability: As long as you have things you want to document and/or you are interested in your friends’ photos, this can sustain your interest.
  • +1: Critical Mass: OK, Instagram isn’t there yet. But the ball is rolling, and I seem to pick up at least a follower a day among my friends adopting it. And I think it’s such a great app that I expect the social sharing and positive word of mouth to keep building the community.

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