Flickr will always have a place in my heart. It represents one of the last true bastions of the open web. It was one of the first places where I saw a community of like minded individuals come together. And from 2004-2008 it was a special time of growth and possibility. It may not have caught up with Instagrams of the world, but it’s still a pretty nice place. Hopefully it will survive the new post-Yahoo world. Kottke summed it up best:
Flickr was extraordinarily vital, for years. It still has so much to offer. Sometimes there’s something reassuring about a tool that’s still much the same.
For those who know me, you know that I would give my first born child to Google. So what happens when my beloved iPhone creator Apple rejects something Google makes? I get sad and depressed like Mommy and Daddy are fighting. Recently it was announced that all Google Voice related apps on the iPhone App Store were removed for “duplicating functionality already on the iPhone.”
Google Voice is a service that allows you to keep one number and forward it to any phone you own. Google gives you one number for life, for free. Tons of features come with it, it’s essentially your own personal call center. You can block callers, screen calls, and set times for which phones ring. There’s tons more that I’m not mentioning. It’s absolutely amazing and it’s something that the Telcos should have come up with years ago. But they didn’t. Now Google’s got it and there isn’t even a competitor for this type of service, let alone one for free.
Google recently opened the flood gates for Google Voice to the public and has been sending invites like crazy. This must have what triggered the events that recently passed. Two apps were already available in the App Store – GV Mobile and VoiceCentral. They’ve been around since May. They were paid apps developed by third party developers. The main reason people want these apps is to be able to show their Google Voice number on outgoing calls, and to review all history on their Google Voice account. These apps also integrated with your iPhone address book. But these apps were pulled this week, and then Google admitted that Apple denied their official app that was submitted six weeks ago. Again, the apps were pulled for “duplicating functionality already on the iPhone.” You may want to re-read that. And come on, how many notes apps are in the App Store?
There are several reasons why this is and should be upsetting to iPhone users.
First, Apple is now aggressively blocking an incredibly useful app. Something that is new, that no one else has. Their acceptance to date has been pretty inconsistent. They’ve hindered functionality of apps like Google Latitude, and Skype. But this was a flat out block, and a retroactive one at that. The apps that were already in the store were APPROVED for months, then retroactively denied. People paid money for them, and now if they need to clear their iPhone, they won’t be available.
Second, Google has already released this app to all Blackberry phones, including those on the AT&T network. So AT&T already has this app functioning on another device on their network. Some have suggested that AT&T is not ready for the growth of the iPhone userbase, even though they’ve dropped the price of the phone down to a mere $99 to gain… more iPhone users.
Third, most people are placing the blame entirely on AT&T. AT&T is scared of Google Voice, even though to use the service… you have to have a wireless phone number to use it wirelessly. It’s not a VOIP app. I will be using my AT&T minutes to make calls on my iPhone. You can also text from Google Voice, which is maybe what they are afraid of. But most people are going to keep their texting plans too (because $30 a month is a reasonable price). So if AT&T thinks they are going to lose money on it, they are wrong. They will lose money by for blocking it, as a lot of people will move to the Android platform which has a much more open acceptance for applications developed for it.
Fourth, and last. Apple has been so inconsistent with its approval of apps that developers may not want to take a chance on any kind of application that “duplicates functionality already on the iPhone” or improves upon it. Why spend money and time developing an application if you have no certainty on whether that app will show up a month or two later? Apple and AT&T are blocking true innovation on an already innovative phone. Why not improve it and foster even greater unimaginable uses for the phone?
I am greatly upset with this new trend Apple is setting, and as a consumer I should be allowed to put whatever I want on my phone as long as it doesn’t interrupt with AT&T’s network. Android and the Blackberry will have time to catch up to the iPhone if this continues. Even if you aren’t a Google Voice user, you should still remain concerned. Hopefully these are just growing pains that we can laugh at in a year.
I have been a member of Twitter since it was created in 2006. It has grown into something quite amazing since, with millions of users finally “getting” a new way to communicate. But what I don’t understand, is all the hype around it. I am personally unhappy with Twitter’s innovation in the past year. This could be due to their growing pains. Twitter has taken away more features in the past year than created. And they have completely lied on why they took them away, and whether they would be returning. For such a widely used service, Twitter needs to get its act together.
The latest hype revolves around a Twitter TV show. Seriously people? Are we so obsessed with Twitter that we need a TV show , about Twitter? Granted, Twitter provides an excellent way to communicate with listeners or viewers of programs (ex. CAVERadio*). Integrating Twitter can provide a new provocative way to combine our information overload, but this Hollywood focus, and celebrity oriented phenomenon needs to stop.
I think Twitter needs to start innovating with some new features, and stabilizing current ones, instead of relying so heavily on the API community to do cool things for them while they hold up the walls. If you haven’t yet, please check out FriendFeed. It’s everything Twitter is and more (stable, real time, feature rich), and you don’t have to completely abandon Twitter to use it. And seriously… a TV show?
Drop.io is a not necessarily a new website, but it’s new to you. Drop.io is a DEAD SIMPLE (I love/hate that term) file
sharing site on it’s face. But if you dig deeper Drop.io is quite possibly the most useful site I’ve stumbled upon in recent history.
Drop.io allows users to create drops to place files, links, posts, images, or anything else digital. To create a drop you can create your own moniker or it will assign a random one to you. You do not need to register or enter an email address to create a drop, and there is no limit on the number of drops you can create (as far as I’ve seen). I can’t stress the no registering part enough. You can start sharing files within seconds with no registration. Even better you can set the drop expiration date, so if you only need it for a day, it will be gone tomorrow. You do not need to set permissions or settings (unless you want to, then you may set an administrator password for the drop for more advanced features).
In addition to all that awesomeness Drop.io has several other features to make it even more awesome. With any drop you are assigned a free conference line, voicemail box, or fax drop. You can upload files via email (i.e. attachments). You can embed an upload form to any blog or website, to keep your drop hidden. You can upload audio to the drop and Drop.io will make it an automatic podcast for you with enclosure tags and an iTunes link. The voicemail feature assigns you a telephone number and an extension, you can call it and leave a message, which you can then download as an mp3, email, or embed in a website.
I am going on and on here, but there is tremendous wealth to all the features Drop.io has to offer. Best of all of this is… it’s free. 100 MBs per drop, but you can upgrade that if you are willing to dish out some dough.