Small Time App Becomes a Big Star

As someone who likes apps, I’ve always heard about recommendation engine Where, but never had much of a desire to use it. Then this week it snapped my attention when it was bought up by ebay in an interesting expansion into mobile commerce. So I figured before the app changes I’ll check out what all the fuss is about.

On the surface, Where is a recommendation engine that uses your favorite locations to tell you where you should go next. You can check out places to eat, drink or hang out at all with a few taps. Where has many more layers though that make it a #winning app. As you can see above, you can use the Bump app to share recommendations with your friends. To those of you that haven’t used this awesome innovation, you simply bump phones together to connect and share content (often your contact when you’re too late in the evening to type out numbers).

Where encourages you to separate local businesses into two categories – those that are your favorites and those that you want to go to in the future. This to me seems to limiting – why do I have to either LOVE a place, or just want to go there? Haven’t you also been to places where you just kind of liked it? Where’s the rating system?

Regardless, Where is a powerful way to use your gastrointestinal and alcoholic interests to explore Boston further. It will certainly be interesting to see how eBay integrates into the app – specifically through their PayPal payment system.

What do you think? Is Where the next big bang or a bust?


Change the Channel from Miles Away

This one goes out to all the awesome BU Off Campus students – if you’re stuck with BU cable, change the channel or find out something you could look forward to with Xfinity Cable.

Not that Comcast is known for being awesome, but I have found a reason to call them awesome – and a way to change the channel while I’m on the phone with my roommate from across Boston.

Using you online login, you can easily access your TV listing and DVR from afar. Checking if you can have another drink or need to get home by 9 has never been easier. Even better, you can change the channel remotely, which as I said makes an awesome prank.

The app also has complete control over your DVR, which has saved me more than once from missing Jersey Shore (let’s be honest, what else would I be saving for historical posterity?).

Play with it and let me know what you think!

Go Sit in the Corner Facebook, and Think About What You’ve Done

I’m going to take a momentary hiatus from my usual informative writing to talk about an app you all probably already have on your phones: the Facebook app.

If you’re reading this blog, I’d be shocked if you didn’t use Facebook – so I’m just going to pretend like you do. You would think that the most popular social networking website around would have one of the best apps for the iPhone and Android, but in reality it blows (pardon my French).

On the surface, it’s a decent interface for interacting with the platform – you can post your status, photos or location, check your friend request, read your news feed and write messages and chats. You can even add favorite links to your Facebook pages you manage or your best friend’s Facebook page.

Where the app completely fails and drives me absolutely bananas is in the technical sense. I think it’s possibly the glitchiest app I have ever used in all 22 years of my life (I’ve been using an iPhone since I was in the womb, didn’t you know). For one, the notification system is crazy glitchy – missing some notifications you’ve gotten, mis-notifying you hours after you’ve already seen something and having pages and pages of old notifications that just won’t disappear. The photos section of the app is even worse – with missing photos and misguided links in your notifications. Nothing drives me more crazy than when I see my friend has commented on or tagged me in a photo and I can’t for the life of me figure out what the photo is or what my friend said. The levels of frustration can only truly be appreciated by downloading the app and attempting to use it.

Maybe I’m just holding the app to a high standard – maybe I’m just expecting a lot from the biggest and greatest and most profitable social network in the world. But, really Facebook? Can’t you do a whole lot better?

What do you guys think, is this app as much of a dud as I think it is?

Master the 57

As we all know, the MBTA isn’t exactly the most reliable means of transportation we have around here. Living on the green line can have its perks, but mostly it’s just annoying waiting for a T when nothing has come for the past 20 minutes.

Lucky for you there’s this wonderful alternative called the 57 bus, and the 57 has a wonderful little thing called GPS tracking. And GPS tracking can do this cool thing where you find out how far away the next bus is. I kid you not that this app has literally saved my day so many times.

The app is real simple to use – allowing you to choose your favorite stops based on the routes you use most. The Boston bus system certainly isn’t simple, and the app could use a bit more direction, but for 99 cents it’s a great guide to catching the bus at your usual stop.

Have you used this or any bus tracking apps? Did they help you catch your 9 a.m. (or 11 a.m. more likely)?

Time to Procrastinate

Even though this blog is Comm Ave specific, since we’re all also students at BU we need to make time for fun. Lots and lots of time for fun.

I came across this amazing app this weekend, and I think I should probably just drop out now to give myself enough time to play it. I thought Angry Birds was the only way to get me to kill my iPhone battery while completely neglecting my work, but I was certainly wrong.

The methadone to my Angry Birds addiction is Tiny Wings – a new game from Andreas Illiger about one courageous bird just trying to fly.

Game play couldn’t be simpler – your tiny winged friend isn’t able to fly, so he slides along the hills but with a simple tap of your finger he (she? it?) tucks its wings in and can get momentum to get off the ground. Literally all you have to do is tap – completely possible to do while you’re pretending to pay attention in lecture.

The game is objectives based (which I love, in case you were wondering) – you work to meet all sorts of different objectives to get new nests for your bird to sleep in. This keeps things interesting no matter how long you play for – and believe me you’ll be playing for a long time.

Happy playing! And if you find a way to get to the 9th island, immediately comment and tell me how! I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep until I do.

Commonwealth Apps: The 1920s Edition

A few weeks ago, I got to attend the launch party of a cutting-edge new app on the streets of Boston: Spkeazy.

Named after the 1920s hangouts, Spkeazy is meant to be a guide into nightlife in Boston. With every venue easily accessible from the “Venues” tab, users rate their experience based on the line length, capacity, atmosphere and male-to-female ratio. Theoretically, this makes it easy to check where your friends are, how awesome of a time they’re having and if there are enough biddies for you to want to join them.

Excuse my ridiculous profile pic

The entire app works completely in conjunction with your Facebook. This seemed like a great idea at first: easy access to your friends on Facebook, easy to post statuses if you wanted to from where you are. But then I began using the app and realized it was a spam animal. Spkeazy will post to Facebook every single move you make during the night, without asking for permission. For many, many reasons this could be problematic with a nightlife app – not only for keeping things PC if you need to, but also for keeping your privacy if you want it.

Thanks, but no thanks Spkeazy. I’ll use my Facebook when I need to.