Mobile messaging app Spotbros, backed by ex-Nokia President and CEO Olli Pekka Kallasvuo, has announced the launch of an API to enable companies to build mini apps for its messaging client so that they can use the platform to engage with and provide various services to customers — not dissimilar to Kik’s recently announced “Cards” feature.
The Spanish startup has also shared some interesting numbers with TechCrunch. It says that over 1 million users have registered for its apps since tentatively launching in February 2012 on Android only, before adding iOS and a full launch in October 2012. Around 71% of users are in Spain, with Latin America and the U.S. making up most of the remaining users.
In addition to that 1 million user milestone — up from 40,000 in June 2012 – Spotbros tells TechCrunch that its users are sending around 2 million messages per-day, and have created around 45,000 “Spots”, which are group chats tied to a specific location.
Though sometimes referred to as the Spanish Whatsapp, Spotbros’ apps go far beyond private or group messaging, though it does support both.
As mentioned, users can create and converse in geolocalized and top-based group chats called “Spots” so that they can share information about the topics they’re interested in with people that are not in their address book. Topics range from things like Gastronomy, football, jobs opportunities, to humour.
Users can also send a “Shout”, a message that is delivered to the first 100 people closes to you (within 1500m). It’s designed as a real-time way to tap local knowledge, with, I dare say, a heavy dose of serendipitous fun.
The way messages can be constructed is also potentially different. Called “SBMails”, users can create messages that combine unlimited text, links, images, audio, video, and maps. These rich messages can be shared within all of the existing message channels — privately in one-to-one or group chats, Spots, and Shouts — but also on a user’s public timeline, similar to Twitter’s micro-publishing model. In addition, they can be shared more broadly on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc. as SBMails have their own Web URL. Messages can also be commented on, forwarded, and Liked.
But Spotbros wants to go even further to enable users to use mobile messaging/IM to not only to talk to their friends or any other Spotbros users but also to use the app to communicate with companies and consume services — “SB Apps” — created by developers. And that’s what today’s announced API is all about.
The idea is that SB Apps will act as “virtual experts” offering users information about specific services through a familiar messaging interface. Examples of existing apps include the “Metro Madrid” app which gives the best route after a user has typed the name of two subway stations; “Billboard” which provides local cinema listings and other details after typing in the name of a film; and “Triviapp” which lets you play a game of trivia with friends or any other Spotbros users.
TechCrunch » Social
Social Sentiment Platform Swipp Launches Consumer Opinion Tracker For Businesses, Backed By Additional $2M Investment
Mountain View-based startup Swipp, which earlier this year launched its social interest platform for consumers to share what they think of “a person, place or thing”, has taken the natural next step by introducing Swipp Plus: a tool for businesses to mine the consumer data that its opinion graph generates. To fund the new product, Swipp has also announced an additional $ 2 million institutional investment, extending the $ 3.5 million it previously raised from Old Willow Partners.
Swipp says Swipp Plus is designed to “increase customer interaction and provide real-time customer insight around products, brands, and offers”. It joins the ranks of opinion monitoring tools for marketers to gather intel from social networks, such as Hootsuite et al. However the difference is that Swipp has built its own social sentiment platform as well as now a suite of tools to track opinion on it. Swipp’s “quantifiable sentiment layer”, as it describes its platform, may not have the huge user-base of Facebook or Twitter but it’s specifically designed to generate the kind of market research data that businesses crave.
Although it’s possible to pull consumer sentiment data off other social networks, Swipp not only has opinionated comments organised by topic but users also score the person/place/thing they are ‘swipping’ — generating Swipp’s quantifiable data. This allows it to measure and track opinion changes over time. It’s also capturing user location so Swipp can figure out what’s hot and what’s not in different global regions.
It’s unclear how many users Swipp’s consumer platform has accrued so far but presumably a lot less than social’s giants — so whether its data is particular compelling to businesses yet is questionable. That said, the Swipp Plus ‘self-service’ tool is free so there’s nothing to stop companies kicking its tyres. Swipp is also offering a Swipp Enterprise offering, tailored to the needs of larger businesses, which does carry a (bespoke) price-tag.
Swipp said the Swipp Plus suite allows users to track terms, create embeddable widgets, and gauge sentiment on a variety of topics, including products and brand names.
TechCrunch » Social
RedBull launches a music-tech startup accelerator, 3rd Ward offers a networking opportunity in Brooklyn, HUB Bay Area helps social treps with PR, Berlin startups slay dragons, VCs and treps square off, the SBA gets social, NY Tech Day kicks off, TechCrunch Disrupt unleashes in NYC again, the Webbys wants your votes… This week’s notable news and startup events for young treps.
Launched last June, Beachfront Media‘s Beachfront Builder platform was designed to allow video producers to quickly roll out apps across a number of devices. Those apps would have custom skins and could even serve ads, with videos streamed out either via the YouTube API or by connecting to creator’s own content management system. In the time since then, it’s gotten a few content producers on board, most notably YouTube network Big Frame.
The Beachfront platform basically enables creators to engage directly with their audiences through their own branded apps, without having their videos hidden within the broader YouTube experiences. And it helps them do so across a wide range of devices all at once. Rather than having to individually develop apps for iPhone, iPad, as well as a whole bunch of Android phones and tablets and phablets, and a bunch of connected TV devices as well.
Using Beachfront Builder not only speeds their time to market, but it also gives them the ability to test out different ways of displaying and distributing their videos. In addition to building apps for individual channels, they can highlight certain topics or characters, allowing them to see which videos and categories viewers engage with most. And, if popular, they can easily break those out into their own apps as well.
Those apps can be customized with branded skins, and can also be monetized. Beachfront customers can add video ads, banners, and the ability to buy merch — all going beyond their traditional YouTube ad monetization.
That’s attracted interest from some big YouTube networks, most notably Big Frame, which is using Beachfront Builder to build video apps for a couple of its channels. By teaming with Beachfront, they’ve rolled out multiplatform experiences for urban lifestyle channel Forefront.tv, as well as its brainy female channel Wonderly. For both, they’re providing the ability to display channel videos on the web, mobile and tablet devices, and connected TV platforms. It’s also being used for multiplatform distribution of Maker Studios’ Epic Rap Battles of History, as well as getting Plum.tv onto like, connected TVs.
Beachfront Media is kind of the successor to video search and discovery platform MeFeedia. Launched in 2007, that company is now working to help video providers get onto more devices. Because everyone loves devices. And video.
Brief news items of note for Lifehacker readers including: Steam sells Portal 1 and 2 for under $ 10, Harrison Ford lashes out at co-star Chewbacca, Durex launches vibrating underwear. More »
Facebook today unveiled three new products at its Mobile Developer Conference in NYC that will put the company on an even faster track to becoming a mobile-first platform.
The company announced Open Graph mobile, which takes Facebook’s social graphing product to the mobile platform for the first time. Facebook is also improving Login via mobile, and releasing a new Facebook SDK 3.5 for iOS.
Alongside unveiling the latest initiatives toward a mobile-focused Facebook, the social network also released its latest figures for mobile, which include over 680 million mobile users and the fact that over 81 percent of iOS apps and 70 percent of top 100 grossing Android apps integrate with Facebook.
In terms of Open Graph mobile, Facebook simply wants to make it easier for developers to integrate the Open Graph into their mobile apps, a feat that has proved difficult in the past. But with a new Object API, Facebook is cutting out the web server.
“With the Object API, you can directly create Open Graph objects and no longer need to host webpages with Open Graph tags. This API is available for both mobile and web apps,” reads the press release. Facebook has also released an Object Browser, which is a visual interface that lets developers interact with their published object data. Alongside the Object Browser, you’ll also notice that Facebook has introduced a new object privacy model that improves sharing of user generated content within native apps.
Past that, the company also released native Share Dialog, a tool that lets users share experiences from native mobile apps without needing to log in to Facebook first. It also has built-in support for publishing Open Graph actions, so it makes sharing within developers’ apps much better “with just one line of code.”
Why is this important? Two things really.
For one, more apps using Open Graph lets Facebook pull more content into the news feed that it can monetize with ads showing alongside it. Plus, Facebook will receive more structured data about user activities, which again, brings us back around to targeting ads.
Where log-in is concerned, Facebook is launching a faster login dialog (20 percent faster, to be exact) that gives users more control over their permissions and privacy. Facebook realized a few months ago that their newest permission model on the FB platform was seeing a 5 percent increase in mobile conversions, and so they decided to bring that feature to their developers as well. Starting today, the new login dialog will automatically be applied to mobile and non-game web apps with no change required to the code.
Last, but certainly not least, Facebook is launching the Facebook Technology Partners program to help developers leverage these new products across all the potential platforms out there. According to the release, “these partners offer technical solutions that include SDKs, plugins, tools and services to help developers build great social apps.”
Here’s the initial list of partners:
- C# SDK for Windows 8 by Microsoft
- Corona SDK by Corona Labs
- Node.js by Thuzi
- Parse SDK by Parse
- PhoneGap by Adobe
- Sencha Touch by Sencha
- StackMob SDK by StackMob
- Trigger.io SDK by Trigger.io
- Unity Social Networking Plugin by Prime31
- WinJS by Thuzi
TechCrunch » Social
Hello Social Launches Platform And API For Building And Monitoring Every Aspect Of Social Marketing Campaigns
Hello Social is a new Toronto-based startup launching today, with the aim of improving the amount of useful data captured from online social media marketing campaigns. The startup, co-founded by design professional Dominik Dryja and technical lead Bartek Nowotarski, provides tools for companies looking to run campaigns like contests on platforms like Facebook, or via their own web properties, and provides intelligent metrics around those contests to help identify trends and opportunities to drive greater engagement and higher conversion rates.
Then you set an age gate, and are able to specify what kind of data you want to collect. Contests are in all cases a way for brands to generate leads, so this is the crucial step. Contest creators can enter as many fields as they like, including things like name and email, as well as custom fields for gathering any kind of data. Then once you select a design and set the broadcast message for Open Graph and friend invites, you’re good to set it live.
“We’re giving the tools for Internet companies to track very simply whether he’s actually an engaged user, whether he’s actually recommended something, whether he’s a paid user, all coming soon in future releases” Dryja explained in an interview, talking about the range of possible options in terms of data you can gather. “There’s no system right now that delivers this kind of solution, and we’d like to continue in the future developing things in that area.”
Through the API, developers have even more freedom in terms of what they can create, since they can build those same contests into their own landing pages, marketing web pages and existing online services. Contest participants can then access and engage with the same contest from multiple locations around the web, effectively making it a way to turn contests into essentially portable apps.
Hello Social charges a flat $ 199 fee per campaign, and then a recurring rate of $ 4.99 per day for the duration of the contest. This is in contrast to competitor platforms, Dryja says, which are locked down to specific platforms, or which charge different rates based on volume and business size. The whole idea behind Hello Social was to try to make the campaign creation process completely transparent, from pricing, to code, to results. The startup is currently bootstrapped, and Dryja says while they’re considering seeking outside funding, they haven’t made any decisions yet, and are already actually working with their first commercial partner on a major campaign launch.
TechCrunch » Social
The uBiome crowdfunding campaign is the largest successful citizen science initiative, raising over $ 350,000 and involving over 2,500 participants from over 40 countries, who pledged their support in exchange for having their microbiomes sequenced, including the Australia, Canada, Netherlands, France, Germany, India, Singapore, Israel, Uruguay, Bulgaria, South Africa, Estonia and the United Arab Emirates.
SOURCE LINK: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb10644061.htm
Save for later service Pocket debuted a new feature today, which allows users to quickly send content saved to their Pocket accounts to contacts from within the app. The feature uses that most old-school of social sharing means, email, but updates it with more modern social features, adds in-app and push notifications, and saves frequently used connections for easy future access.
The Send to Friend feature focuses on sharing as communication between two people, rather than the kind of broadcast model of one-to-many generally preferred by the most popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Pocket founder and CEO Nate Weiner explained that the company was finding email was the most popular method of sharing on the platform, so it made sense to flesh out that feature.
“If you think about consuming, the act of doing it is private – you’re not sitting next to somebody reading, but once you’re finished with it you want to share,” he said. “With Pocket, we feel like we’ve done a really good job of that private consumption experience, and with this release, we’re thinking about how do we solve that social side of things. What we’re seeing is, when you look at Pocket and how people share today, the number one way people share is via email.”
Shares via email exceed the total number of times content is shared via Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels combined, Weiner explained. That’s because with the type of content people value enough to save for later consumption, there seems to be a feeling that it’s best shared with specific people you think would be interested in that subject. Pocket’s goal was to make it much easier to share to that small group you tend to share with more frequently.
Pocket’s new share menu bubbles up a person’s most frequently used share sources, and that can now include friends and family they email most. And when you do share, you can include more than just a link – if those you share with are on Pocket, they’ll receive an optional push notification about the content, as well as any comments or highlighted sections you choose to include in a new Pocket app inbox, so there’s more context around why they thought you’d be interested.
I asked Weiner if he thought that Pocket’s one-to-one sharing might have anything in common with/to gain from the rise in popularity of messaging apps like WhatsApp, which recently revealed that it’s bigger than Twitter by active user base.
“This one-to-one thing, which nobody sees because it’s all happening privately, is so much bigger than the activity that’s happening on the public network, and I think it largely gets ignored,” he said. “But it ends up being a much higher volume, a much better signal and a much more high quality share, so I think the one-to-one stuff is really important, and I think people are going to start noticing that very soon.”
Pocket is now seeing around 35 million saves per month, which is way above its 2012 pace, when it totaled 240 million saves for the entire year for an average of around 20 million per month. This new sharing feature should result in even bigger numbers as it helps users surface more interesting content to one another.
TechCrunch » Social
Google Ventures-Backed Messaging Startup, Just.me, Launches iOS App In 155 Countries/32 Languages, Aiming To Rattle Social’s Cage
Following its beta launch at the end of January, just.me, the mobile messaging startup from Keith Teare, co-founder of TechCrunch and partner at incubator Archimedes Labs, has launched its first app, available initially for iPhones and iPod Touch. Just.me had planned on an earlier release of the app but said today it held back so it could launch at DEMO Mobile to garner more attention.
As with any messaging app, just.me’s usefulness is commensurate with the number of friends fully on board with the service so getting the word out to drive app downloads is now priority number one for its founders. Just.me does support messaging going outside its bounds, to non-app users, but to access the full suite of features conversation participants need to join in.
Just.me also has a more complex feature-set than the average messaging app, so arguably has more work to do to educate potential users and convince them it’s worth sticking with it through the learning curve. Rather than focusing on selling itself as just a (free) messaging service, as some of its messaging rivals have, just.me has grander ambitions: it’s agitating to replace centralised social networks with the contacts in your phonebook plus its tabbed sharing structure.
The app supports private one-to-one messaging; contained group messaging; and public broadcasts, the latter on a public just.me cloud (similar in concept to Twitter). It also allows users to talk to themselves by using the app as a private journal and/or storage service, a la Evernote. So it’s offering a spectrum of messaging types, private and public, all within the same service.
These features make it a lot more ‘high concept’ than the average messaging app — closer, perhaps, to the likes of NHN Japan Corp’s Line, which is also styling itself as a social network replacement and also offers multifaceted sharing options. Unlike Line, though, which is replete with stickers and cartoonish mascots, just.me is not so heavily targeting the youth market.
Just.me has a clean, professional look (see screenshot gallery below) with a focus on displaying users’ own photos that’s most reminiscent of Path or Facebook Home. Add to that its ability to function as an email-plus-multimedia-attachment replacement and just.me seems most likely to appeal to older, professional power users — who are seeking to collapse the functions of multiple apps into one low-friction interface.
Facebook Home is a step forward for mobile software… We can see the end of single use apps in this move.
Since just.me’s beta debut at the start of the year the competitive mobile messaging landscape has shifted a little, with Facebook launching its Facebook Home launcher on the Android platform. Home is a skin that sits between the OS and third party apps, pushing the latter outside the user’s main sphere of attention. Just.me is not currently competing with Home, since Home is not (fully) available on iOS. But Teare & co are working on an Android version of their app — due in six to eight weeks — so will be rubbing up against Facebook’s new-look mobile face soon enough.
Asked whether Facebook Home makes just.me’s user-acquisition task harder than it might otherwise be, Teare argued the opposite, telling TechCrunch: “Facebook Home really makes things easier. People will understand a user-centric approach with an app that caters for multiple user needs.
“Facebook Home is a step forward for mobile software. It represents an attempt to support multiple user goals on a single platform. We can see the end of single use apps in this move. just.me shares this vision of a combined messaging and social media app capable of supporting all of a users goals. We are happy to be in the same company as Facebook here.”
While conceding it’s an inevitable challenge for a 14-person startup to compete “in a field that contains giants”, Teare said just.me’s distributed openness vs the “walled garden clubs”, its range of sharing features and an initial rollout that encompasses “155 countries from day one, in 32 languages” (albeit, on only one mobile platform) will help it stand out. And rattle some cages.
“We do not see ourselves as competing with Facebook Home. We are far ahead feature wise and very different in that we are an open and distributed network, not a centralized one. We rather see ourselves as offering users features and controls that others have yet to build,” he said. “We want to be a major player in delivering multi-faceted messaging to users.”
Just.me raised a $ 2.7 million Series A back in 2011. Its investors include Khosla Ventures, SV Angel, Google Ventures, True Ventures, Betaworks, CrunchFund (which is of course tied up with TechCrunch in several ways, including the fact that our parent company AOL is an investor), and individuals including Don Dodge and Michael Parekh.
TechCrunch » Social