All posts by Soumen Halder

A web 2.0, startups and photography enthusiast. Lately found on Twitter @hsoumen. A cinephile and a zealous cyberflâneur. He also authors his own blog Ampercent.

Kyck Start Your Football Madness With The Soccer Social Network

The knockout stage has kicked off for Euro 2012 thereby taking the football fever to a higher level. There are plenty options you can socially connect to the madness. There’s Twitter and other apps like OnSports, PlayUp, Share The Match etc that does a fine job handling the social updates pertaining to the game.

kyck-intro

However, a new social network, Kyck plans to make the experience more specifically soccer-centric. The service went live last summer with a website and the release was followed by an iOS app launched afterwards. The company plans to go mobile and an Android variant is expected during the end of the current year. The company was started by Mac Lackey, a vet in the online tech industry and was sold off later. The team currently consists of 14 members and 3 interns.

The social network is currently invite-only, although, the team urges users to ask for an invite which will most likely get answered in a day. Alternatively, you can ping them on Twitter, letting them know about your eagerness and passion to join the network by adding a hashtag #KYCKme to your tweet. Once you get in you can follow international teams as well as any player to check out the latest conversations related to the topic. Similarly, if you wish to get your views included in a specific conversation feed, you can tag them with the relevant tag. Check-ins to a game, club or player will ensure you get in-app or push notifications related to them in later times. The social element comes in as a hybrid of Twitter features. You can follow people to get updates(photos, comments, notes etc) from him/her on your stream. Moreover, the spiffy algo also curates a list of contents(Top Kyck) that are considered commendable by the community.

The new network is planning for a public release sometime during the next month. The UI and wider availability are two major elements they are putting their faith in to ensure better feel for the users.

While OnSports and PlayUp remains my favorite, I can’t stop myself from using the official Euro 2012 app in an unceasing manner while I’m not in front of a TV. But that said, the Euro 2012 app is for the time being I will certainly love to have something like OnSports that is entirely for soccer games and all sorts of them. Thankfully Kyck feels so much like it. Since I prefer Android, I will have to wait for some time to comment more on the mobile experience the soccer social network delivers. Until then we will love to  hear more from you about your favorite sports apps.

Hotstagram Borrows Facemash Idea to Compare Instagram Photos

Remember the Mark Zuck classic Facemash? Well the story didn’t go that well for him. Did you know yet that the inspiration behind it was Hot or Not? Many, borrowing the idea, came afterwards and made their mark. The whole idea of girl pics being compared is kinda too hot to resist. Isn’t it?

hotstagram-intro

Yet another startup Hotstagram plans to exploit the idea. Instagram, not so while ago an iOS darling and then dished out for Android users to play with it and finally Facebook joined in to spoil acquire the whole party. Yet Instagram remains the most preferred app that still makes(and shares) those dull snaps look brilliant. 2011 figures suggest the number of images shared on the network is 400 million. That’s indeed a big number. The new startup plans to compare the people photos from Instagram based on how attractive(or HOT) they are. Users can choose to rate pictures of girls as well as guys. There’s no signup needed to vote on pictures. Instagram users who wish to get their pictures voted by random people can share their Instagram pics with Hotstagram by adding a simple #hotstagram tag to them. Hotstagram also provides a link for current matchup to share it elsewhere.

The idea although sounds a little creepy but the 27-year old founder who goes by the name Captain Kirk claims there’s nothing illegal. The whole picture sharing is compliant with the terms and conditions of Instagram. Facebook and Instagram is yet to issue any official statement to claim anything fishy about Hotstagram.

Seriously speaking the USP is intelligent. Tapping into a mammoth database of retro imagery and using a popular network to create content combined with the gender tickle will hardly be a failure. However the success banks on how the Instagram users are going to adopt it or rather how willing they are to get rated. Expectantly the response so far has been overwhelming and the unnamed developer claims their servers have crashed several times failing to handle the user overload. It’s up and running now. So have you rated yet?

With Waze Enjoy Social Navigation, Discounted Gas Prices, Voice Control And Lots More

Have you ever got stuck in traffic and hoped you could simply check in to a social map where someone has suggested an alternate route? Even better, if you had an early information about the roadblock, you could have avoided the route? Waze, an Android and iOS based startup, can help you get all the necessary traffic information and help you reach your destination without much frustration.

waze-intro

The Android and iOS based startup backed by Kleiner Perkins is aimed towards crowdsourcing traffic information. The app can be used to notify(and get notified as well) traffic information like roadblocks, police traps, jams, accidents etc. The app lets you take advantage of the data fetched by other fellow drivers(also using Waze) in your locality to outsmart traffic. Powered with voice control(initiated by a simple hand gesture) the app can be a great way to stay connected to the traffic updates and report necessary changes that you might encounter during your daily road trip.

The app has recently launched a new feature that will enable users to refuel gas at a lower price. So apart from finding (and reporting) traffic information one can now locate a gas station that’s offering lower prices. GasBuddy, already a market leader in this segment is already doing a great job. Users will have to wait for some time to find out the accuracy of Waze’s information and how it is planning to take up the challenge of competing with Gasbuddy. Waze has partnered with vendors that will offer discounts to Waze users at nearly 2000 stations currently in US. The service will gradually be rolled out globally so that the community can also report a gas station in their daily commute.

Along with other behemoths in the mapping scenario, Waze is also confirmed to be a part of Apple’s new turn-by-turn mapping services that is being implemented in the latest iOS6. This will definitely take the numbers up for the Waze users thereby producing more information for the service. However it is still unsure to how far Apple is planning to integrate the service in its maps, we will have to wait for that too.

Other notable features that has been dispensed includes search by category(for locating restaurants, ATMs, coffee shops etc), waypoints(to add a stop in your proposed route, helpful for car poolers) and text-to-speech.

To be candid, with what Waze professes to be offer, will eventually grow into a complete tool for car navigation. Now to be true, crowdsourcing, in terms of usability, offers both sides of a coin. Information generated by users help keep thing updated and grows at a steady pace as well. On the other hand, the accuracy of the information is questionable. Nonetheless, Waze has grown into a massive database, thanks to the (17million plus) community and doing great so far (else the Apple deal might not have happened). If things goes this way, Waze has all the mettle to change the face of turn-by-turn navigation by so-called social (storytelling) reporting of traffic.

With Facebook for WordPress, What’s Going to Change?

WordPress is admittedly the most used CMS(content management system). It caters to a wide range of siteowners. From small scale websites to tech news giants, everybody can rely on its robust yet flexible website management. On the other hand, to promote their content every webmaster has to rely on social media. Facebook, for long, has provided a feisty marketing tool for every business out there. From the time Open Graph came to existence, webmasters had no other choice but to code their apps to integrate Facebook’s social experience with their WordPress blogs. Thankfully with the new plugin it won’t be a strenuous task anymore.

facebook-for-wordpress-intro

Let’s start with the installation. Follow the simple steps below to activate the new plugin.

1. Download the Facebook plugin for WordPress.

2. You can either upload it to your blog’s hosting server with your ftp client or you can use your WordPress account. A quick tutorial is available here.

3. Once you have succesfully uploaded the plugin, go to Plugins > Inactive and scroll down to activate the Facebook plugin.

4. Now in order to use the plugin you will need to register a Facebook app. You don’t need to be a coder to do that. Just go to The Facebook Developers page and create a new app.

NOTE: If you already have an app registered with Facebook you can go directly to the app and copy the App ID and App Secret. Skip this step and start from step 6.

5. Now add the page name (your blog name would be a good choice here), namespace(optional, entering your blog name is recommended) and Heroku web hosting(optional). Once you are done, you will be redirected to the app page where you will get the App ID and App Secret. These will be needed for configuring the plugin. Scroll down and you will find an option where you will need to mention how your app integrates with Facebook. Click the first option “Website with Facebook Login” and enter your full blog URL i.e including the http://. Once done press the button Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

register-app-facebook

facebook-app-id-secret

6. Now that you have your App ID, App Secret and namespace go back to your plugin configuration page and enter them. After, you have completed the activation you will be presented with a settings page for the Facebook plugin. Choose the options you wish to and save the necessary changes after you had configured them. We’ll discuss more on the configuration changes and how it effects your site layout in a later post.

Every WordPress is meant to add additional capabilities to the CMS. Facebook for WordPress implements the latest social attributes of Facebook for your blog.

1. Social Publisher: This is indeed something new and helpful if you own a multi-author blog. True you could already share posts automatically on Facebook as they were published. However, if your authors too can showcase their posts on their personal timeline, that would mean some additional traffic from their friends and followers. Apart from these any author can mention the names of their friends to post on their timeline as well.

2. Send and Like buttons are primitive if compared with the rest of the functions the plugin offers. It adds a Like and Send button to the top/bottom of any post of your blog to let users share it with their Facebook friends.

3. Subscribe Button: This definitely helps any blog to promote their authors and in turn their content. So far top blogs with reputed authors used to have this feature(but was not limited to). The hassle of coding is no more there, all you now need to do is ask every author to authorize the app from within their WordPress accounts. Doing this will show a subscribe button at the end of the post.

4. The comments section is also something that was popular already. It also comes bundled with other features with this plugin.

5. Recommendation Bar: Technically this is the only significant feature that comes for the first time along with the plugin release. This adds a sticky bar that shows article recommendations to readers. The readers can use the Like button there to like the post they are on or turn on the social reading. This can serve as viral marketing as friends of the reader will see a ticker or news feed entry that says “X read THIS POST on THE BLOG”. Until now this was possible with the selected social readers after the last f8 keynote.

facebook-for-wordpress-social-reading

What it means for a reader?

So as the behemoth of social marketing integrates more easily with the most popular blogging platform expect more clutter in your already populous news feed. Apart from that if you really love sharing what you read, it would be a more pleasant experience for you.

What changes for a webmaster?

Thankfully, a lot. Less coding and more functions. A caution, do not overdo. Sometimes less is more. With more sharing features you will enjoy better visibility on the social network but similar to other plugins your site load time will be hit. Sticky bars are good but at the same time can be annoying too. As you are a better judge for your readers, the decision rests upon you.

Why was it launched? How does it make up for Facebook?

As you have noticed, apart from the recommendations bar everything was already there. This might just be a compilation of the Facebook sharing features. My personal opinion is that the recommendation bar feature is what motivated Facebook to launch this plugin. Since Facebook is planning on a better functional search (and Bing’s social search) their repository should be rich in content. Apart from pages, updates and other things the social reader will take the user engagement to the next level. The less known blogs (with low sharer counts) can also include their content now in a much simpler way. This seems even more relevant as Facebook went on the IPO way and is struggling so far. A new opportunity based on search ads sounds too lucrative to dismiss. Now considering their proximity to Bing they are less likely to go for a head-on clash with Google(Bing already enjoys that rightfully). So improving the internal search for content might be a way out of this.

Think of me as an elitist but I will still bank on the facts that Facebook has already done a great job in luring users. A better platform with better search will only make things better for them(and hopefully a boost for their IPO) and for a right mind that should not be considered evil. There’s nothing personal, it’s all business.

Bet, Brag And Banter With Friends as Euro 2012 Football is On

Euro 2012 is on with the highest level of footballing skills on show. It’s a season of great pub times, large screens, table banging, friends’ banter, and everybody is suddenly an expert. If you are missing out on the Euro madness, call in your gang and be the Football guru online. Not just that, if your team do have the right predicting power you can bag some free cash.

bragbet-intro

Irish startup BragBet has recently launched a new service based on social gambling. You can invite friends by email or Facebook to join your team. During the Euro 2012 Championship, each team member will take turns to be the captain of the team, who will also place bets for the team. Other members can place suggestions on the team wall for all the bets available. There is also a €1000 bounty for the leading tipster as well. To start with, you will have €125 for each team member who joins your team.

Gambling may sound a little scary as you have high chances to lose than to win. Fret not, there is no actual cash flow here. It’s a virtual betting social network or I would prefer to say it a social gambling game. Once the real gambling service is out, players can place money on the team which their captain can use to place bets. The beta service has only launched just more than a week ago and the engagement they are experiencing are overwhelming by their terms.

Phil Riordan(current CEO), Jonathan O’Neill and Brian O’Mullane met during the 2010 Start-Up Weekend in Dublin and soon after they started working on the gambling category which is expected to grow extensively in the future times. Although some firms has already shown their interests in the newly launched service, the developers are wary of the fewer number of VCs in the gambling startup industry. BragBet is currently focusing on the Euro games but plans to extend to other premier leagues as well as sports.

Being social is the need of the day and hopefully with Euro madness on, people can still enjoy the social aspect related to the games. With sharing capability any BragBet user can share (on Facebook) the teams they are rooting for and placing bets on. So until and unless the gambling aspect takes an ugly turn, you can still brag about your football insights and predictions.

Location Based Social App WhosHere Comes To Android

Social networks provide people a platform to connect. Moving a step forward, location aware social networks are helping people find people from nearby location. Thankfully the advent of GPS enabled devices have provided much needed fodder to the trend and the new breed of social apps have shown promises to outshine the general networks in getting people connected with new friends based on their location as well as interests.

whoshere-intro

Founded in 2008, WhosHere, a similar location aware social app, has so long been an iOS exclusive app connecting people from nearby locations. Recently it has introduced video chat for the iOS variant and announced its arrival on the Android platform. The social networking app is aimed towards connecting people nearby by tapping into the GPS functionality of their smartphones. The interface is crummy compared to that of its iOS version and also lacks the newly introduced video chat functionality in the latter one.

whoshere-android-app

Nonetheless, the charm is surely working for WhosHere, which can rightfully brag about the 5 million users already crowding the network as the February figures suggest. Instagram’s Android launch, which was also a popular iOS only app so far, showed an enthusiastic acceptance by Android users(while reportedly iOS users responded with an adverse opinion). Touted as a dating service, we will have to wait to see how the Android community responds to WhosHere.

The success of Path, Highlight, Sonar.me, Foursquare, EchoEcho and a dozen others bear testimony to the fact that people are gradually getting more inclined to location based apps. And to be candid, meeting a new individual online with a prospect to meet him/her in person is more probable with these apps. This is a reminder that no matter how much we stay glued to our smartphone screens to connect with people online, the truly social interaction still happens face to face.

WhosHere for Android

Promote Your Work To Followers Who Admire You

Real or unreal, people flock on social networks, and if you happen to command upon a handsome number of fans there, your creativity can find a better voice with Gumroad. The new startup aims to help you market your work on the people network you already influence.

Sign up for a free account or you can use your Facebook or Twitter to get one. Once you are in, you can add your work by providing links or upload it to the Gumroad cloud that also works as a hosting service. Add a name for your work, set a price that’s reasonable for your effort and press the Add Link button. You’ll then be redirected to your sales page where you can further succinctly detail your work, add a thumbnail, track purchases/views or disable the sales. You can find a uniquely generated URL to sales page to share with your Facebook and Twitter fans and friends.

gumroad-add-link

Apart from the common configurations, advanced options lets you showcase a work on profile, limit a sale for a predefined amount or add Webhooks to it. The interesting Webhooks feature for sellers offers better understanding of buyers and respond to them. It works great for specific purposes and can be used on link-to-link basis and not a universal feature for all. Know more about this here and to add Webhooks to any link use it from the More Options menu.

The pricing feature also offer a unique approach to pricing. You can enter a minimum amount for any item and then your users can define their own price for the item. This can be great if you choose to open a donation fund in exchange for a unique creation(e.g. a special sponsor Tshirt). Set a limit for any sale for a target fund such that when any number users pay their own prices to close the campaign to support the cause by buying the product, the campaign will feature them in an order they paid amounts are. A feel of exclusivity seems to work for them and your cause. To use this feature add a “+” after the minimum price you assign for a product. Anything from a charity program to a gig to commemorate a cause can leverage from this idea.

While payments will be sent to your Paypal account(once every month, no payment thresholds were found), your buyers will need to use their email and credit card(also address if you choose so, not required by default) details to complete the transaction. This might sound a bit tiresome (as credit card payments are) but it isn’t, if you take a look at the screenshot below(or use the demo page), you’ll get an idea how simple it is actually.

gumroad-payment

Any average Joe and Jane in the trade can use the wieldy tool. One major concern is maintaining customer records. If you are a popular artist or a seasoned marketer and happen to generate a healthy number of sales, it can be quite a ghastly experience. Leveraging networks for marketing sake is nothing new; Facebook pages are a perfect example. But Gumroad seems to make it inherent by seamlessly adding social sharing to marketing. The idea has specific advantages. Since people who follow you does so because they admire you, sharing your work with them will have better chances to get them sold or at the least shred to their own networks. On a concluding note, the app although may not serve as suitable tool for heavy marketing but serves individuals in need for a marketing media to publicize  and handle their sales.

Taking A Quick Look At Yahoo’s Axis Browser, The What’s and How’s

The browser wars has just heated up with the latest entrant, Yahoo’s Axis browser. For now there is a standalone app for the iPad and iPhone whereas for the desktop an extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. Let’s take a quick look at what it has to offer.

Adding the browser enhancement is one easy process. Head over to the official Axis website and use to the button “Get it Now” to download the appropriate extension for your browser. Once done you’ll notice a black search bar at the bottom the browser window. Start typing in it and it will bubble up to show you the search results in real time. The visibly brilliant search interface offers a speedy experience without necessarily interfering with your browsing. The search results are shown in a carousel like manner and the search is carried out with Bing powered search engine. Users can then click on any of the results to open it on the very same tab(right click and it can also be opened on a new tab) and this cancels out the detested feeling of fishing for the dull text links. So unlike other browsers you get to search for keywords without leaving the current page or firing up a new search page. No wonder it works much like it’s publicized.

yahoo-axis-browser-extension

Apart from these, there is a bookmark button which can be used to add the current page to Favorites or a Read Later folder. Use the login option to link the Axis Browser to your Yahoo account. The bookmarks can then be accessed across any browser or devices that has Yahoo Axis Browser(or browser plugin) installed and logged in to with the same Yahoo account. This is nothing new as Chrome does it in a much better way and so does Firefox.

The iOS version of the app is however a native app that can act as a standalone browser. Unfortunately as Apple don’t allow external links to be opened on any browser other than Safari, Yahoo’s new brainchild search browser won’t be getting much traction unless it is primarily preferred for performing a search on those devices. On a personal note, I wonder why Yahoo didn’t launch for Android(a version is coming soon)?Thankfully Google allows other browser competitors to be launched by default for any external link.

It is not sure whether the new browser will be released as a standalone application for the desktop platforms in future or it will simply stay as a browser extension only intended for the amelioration of the search and browsing experience for the already popular browsers. It might also be a marketing strategy to gain popularity riding on the success of the widely used desktop browsers which can later be leveraged with an independent app. The fact that the internet giant uses Bing instead of its own search bear witness to Yahoo’s dependence on the existing market leaders. Microsoft has definite reasons to cheer as this move might see much deserved growth for its powerful search engine. We’ll have to wait a little longer to comment on that. In the present scenario, the tool is nothing but a new search extension for almost all the popular browsers out there. Speedy, seamless and less-intruding search experience is quite pleasing. The roll-out was hasty decision perhaps, leading to a serious security vulnerability but that is something already taken care of. For me, a Bing lover, this simply serves as a quick tool to use the service but not likely a replacement for the feature rich Chrome browser.

CanvasDropr Introduces Digital Canvas For Visual Collaboration With Files On Cloud

Dropbox is a great way to sync your files across devices. What about adding some collaboration features to that? So far, no news that Dropbox is doing that soon enough; but that never stopped us from wanting, has it? Well as long as new developers are around, ideas have better chances to come to reality. In this case, CanvasDropr uses rich media in form of visual collaboration with files on cloud. Drag and drop files on to a digital canvas and work on them with others. Dead simple but with visible brilliance.

canvasdropr-intro

Sign up for a free account with CanvasDropr. Get in and create a canvas. Add files to the canvas by simple drag and drop method and you can perform basic operations on them like resizing, commenting, rotating, scratching notes or captions etc. You can then share the canvas with others with editing or viewing permission. Your team can then work on the canvas or offer a presentation to others having viewing permissions. All the changes and operations are reflected in real time across all the screens(devices) on which the canvas is opened. iPad, tablets and smartphones can also access the web portal which is optimized for mobile platforms.

The service is in beta and hence there are certain flaws which includes a slow interface and a server that kept throwing 503 HTTP ERRORs many a time. Notwithstanding, the service offers a brilliant collaborating platform for any team. Remember the working sessions before a college art exhibition or a protest march? All the photographs, data sheets, newspaper, cuttings, markers and whatnot scattered over the surface while every other person in the room is busy sorting, commenting or brainstorming ideas on them? The experience is similar with CanvasDropr. However fine, the idea of visual collaboration has already been tried and near perfected by DropMark which is an exact similar app with one or two minor differences. In fact, organizing content is much easier on the latter. DropMark offers free(250MB) plans and paid($48/yr for 25GB) plans whereas no such plans were found on CanvasDropr, which is free to sign up and use for now. So, if you haven’t tried out visual collaboration yet(RIP Google Wave), it’s time to get your hands dirty.

Summarize Your Day In 280 Characters with 280Daily

Remember old days when your friends waited for a chance to sneak peek into your diary to have a look at your long kept secrets? Or the times when our daily lives were neatly archived into a silly notebook? Journals, micro-blogs, note-taking apps replaced them with time. The secrecy and simplicity got suppressed with sharing features and usability. 280daily is here to gratify the dissatisfaction users whine about. The short, simple and private journal app can log your day in just 280 days and it stays encrypted and private to you only.

280daily-intro

Sign up for a free account and don’t offer a Facebook (or Twitter) login. Wonder why? It’s not a product built with sharing in mind. Once you are in, click the “New Entry” and you can add a note for the current day or the previous ones. Adding images or an interesting link is also allowed. View your entries in a grid to get a quick look at your notes which is good way to track your daily activities. You can configure the app for better appearance and performance that suits your needs. The “Overview” option allows you to get an overview of your notes which also provides a link to the summary of your daily activity(that looks something like the screenshot below).

280daily-account-summary

Seamless and clean interface makes the daunting task of documenting every day quite comforting. Since the notes are private you need not worry about privacy. Use succinct sentences while taking down notes for a day. Tracking your progress for a task at hand and at the same time trace the shortcomings are a bonus to what you can achieve with this simple application. So if you are looking for a journal app that doesn’t need you to fill-up a dozen of entries like categories, tags for organizing content or give into the most contemporary need of sharing, 280daily does a great job.