Proximitips iOS app: A cool guy to be around

Latest Gadgets were invited to an intimate Soho venue to have a hands-on play with Proximitips, an explosion of cool sounding sounding buzzwords and ideas. Phrases like “hyper-local”, “real-time” and “social graph” were thrown around with gay abandon. So what’s all the fuss about?

Proximitips

Proximitips is a free iOS app that attempts to be your cool buddy that knows where all the good restaurants and bars are, knows all the staff and has an opinion on all the dishes. Like having a mobile version of me with you at all times (I kid).

With information gathered from over a 750 areas across London – and also available throughout all Europe – and including around a 125 million places of interest, Proximitips is a useful app for the urban explorer. It is the first hyper-local social magazine with booking and purchase facilities, delivering information such as news, promotions, reviews and discounts that are relevant to them and their location, all from within the app.

The app also allows you to access a large set of bookings facilities, such as making a reservation through Toptable, booking events and taking advantage of offers and promotions from a host of local shops, bars and restaurants. However more often than not this appeared to take you to the booking back on the website, which lacked the slickness I desire in my apps. I was promised that future version releases would make ticketing a much smoother affair for dining and gigs. Being able to stand on a street corner, find a gig and a place to eat and book for both is pretty impressive but the implementation needs some work.

“Proximitips is unique in the way it lets you connect in a single place to all your local needs for entertainment, shopping and fun. For the first time you get all of your social media real-time feeds to keep you updated on what people around you are doing and allowing you to interact with them. There is booking functionalities providing access and connection to local shops and restaurants advertising their latest offers and promotions. There is a Q&A to ask questions or recommend places – where best to grab a bite to eat, a good pub to meet with friends or clubs to party at,“ commented Stefano Diemmi, Global Head of Social Media.

Apps like this live or die on user base and content. The automatic inclusion of users from other social media – Facebook, Twitter and Flickr helps to avoid the “ghost town” feel of similar platforms. Apparently more content aggregators are on the way for version 2.0 which should enhance the experience.

But for now check out www.proximitips.com.

Tweetfields – Home of the ‘hottest’ festival news and yet more proof of the middle class colonisation of music festivals

Combine the words Tweetminster and Creamfields and what do you get? A rather boring and predictable anagram of the two enterprises – ‘Tweetfields’. This is, nonetheless, the name Tweetminster and Vodafone VIP have come up with in their creation of the first ever Twitter aggregator for music festivals, www.tweetfields.com.

Tweetfields

With more than 450 in the UK alone, music festivals have come a long way since the first ever Glastonbury took place in 1970 when you got a pint of milk with your ticket. Given the rising prominence and popularity of music festivals, it was only a matter of time before a site dedicated to ‘delivering the definitive information feed to music fans across the festival season and beyond’ occupied the wires and satellite links of the World Wide Web.

Tweetfields essentially works by identifying some of the most influential figures in the festival ‘Twittersphere’ and pooling and monitoring the content shared by these resources on one site. This information, analysis, news and developing trends are live and updated in real time – a bit like a live weather forecast site but infinitely less important.

So where does Vodafone fit in? Well the communication giants such as Orange and Vodafone have been increasingly involved music sponsorship events, such as Orange Glastonbury, Vodafone VIP and O2 Academy. Evolving this trend Tweetminster is working with Vodafone to power Tweetfields, consolidating Vodafone VIP’s position as a festival innovator and building on the company’s sponsorship of 11 festivals in the UK throughout the year.

So what will Tweetfields bring to the thousands of festival fans out there? Well as well as being informed about new trends and performances, visitors to Tweetfields will be offered the hottest tickets and ‘money can’t buy experience’ service through 48-hour advance access to festival tickets and on-site benefits, including a Vodafone recharge truck and Vodaafone VIP viewing platform – Who said that music festivals had returned to their ‘hippy’ roots after being colonised by the middle classes?

Become a ‘Waze hero’ with the “Facebook for Drivers!”

Now this new app actually roused my attention although I am not sure why it is being marketed as “The new Facebook for drivers”. When you are cruising along at 80 mph down the motorway, happily calculating what time you will arrive at your destination, the one thing that puts a dampener on your plans are the depressing sight of a queue of brake lights ahead whereby all you can do is slow down and join them. “Why didn’t we come off at that last exit”, you cry to your equally exasperated passenger, “If only we’d known about this delay!” Enter the ‘Waze’, a new and free navigational app where drivers get to avoid traffic by joining local ‘Waze’ driving communities.

Waze

This 100% user-generated app allows users to passively share real-time traffic information with other ‘Wazers” so that the driving community has an active role in sharing live traffic information about queues, hazards and accidents with other drivers – ah, so that’s why it is being marketed as the “Facebook for drivers”, because it is essentially as social networking site for drivers.

So why not just listen to the highly annoying local radio ‘travel updates’ that rudely interrupt you and rivet your attention back to the road whilst you listen to your favourite track? Well I don’t know about you but I find these radio ‘travel updates’ to not only be annoying for their ‘interrupting’ tendencies, but have an even more annoying habit of warning you of a delay on the road when you are already in it.

‘Wazers’, on the other hand, will have the ‘upper hand’ on local travel information and not only this but the Waze app is designed to be fun, allowing drivers to win prizes and top the ladder board by sharing information and validating roads. On second thoughts perhaps this app is a little ‘sad’, it should have just stuck to enabling drivers to share vital and useful information with other drivers without patronising us to become ‘Waze heroes!’

The new version of the Android app also features a commuting widget, which uses both live information and historical data to tell users when best to take their chosen journey and enables expected time of arrival and journey length to be displayed in real-time from the phone’s main screen.

Check it out here

Competwition: Twitter FTW

If you like free stuff, Competwition should be bookmarked in your browser. If you’re a small business looking to run prize draws on Twitter, Competwition may be the only app you’ll ever need.

Competwition

From the makers of Twitition – the internet’s fastest-growing Twitter-petition site – the service allows business to easily run Twitter-centric giveaway campaigns. For users, this means that the Competwition website is a one-stop shop for free stuff – it’s all just one tweet away.

Businesses can create a Competwition on Twitter for free in minutes through a simple process on the website. For tweeters, simply find an offer you like, click “enter” and you’re done.

Competwition will then automatically follow the brand that created the offer and tweet about the deal to your followers. For brands, it’s a great way to quickly spread throughout the Twitter community. For users, Competwition gives them the chance to win free prizes easily.

Branded3’s Director of Search, Patrick Altoft, said: “It allows businesses, or marketing agencies working for brands, to quickly build Twitter followers, strengthen their social media profile, enhance their relationship with existing customers and engages with audiences they may not have otherwise been able to reach.” Which is great, Patrick, but you’re missing the key point: it gives us free stuff.

It’s taking off quite quickly, with around ten deals already listed on the service. Our favourites (at the time of writing) were offers to win an:

16GB white iPhone 4
£200 vouchers to use with Spa Breaks
Morphy Richards Performair vacuum
Three iPad 2s

And remember, the earlier you adopt, the better your chance of winning!

Soundcloud and Bandcamp: Usurpers of MySpace’s online music throne

A music blogger recently tweeted, “Tried to play a song by a band on MySpace but it didn’t work cos’ MySpace is a mess.”

That one sentence, in essence, encapsulates the downfall of social networking website MySpace in one fell swoop. It was once the first-choice destination for music fans to listen to new tunes, but now, with a new, muddled interface and lagging numbers, its death is on the horizon.

Soundcloud
Image courtesy of Flickr user lizbadley

Figures revealed last week showed that MySpace lost a staggering ten million users between January and February this year. It was once the place where every band uploaded their music, but with MySpace seemingly on the verge of toppling, who is in line to take their throne?

Soundcloud is emerging as a leader in the field. Once slightly confusing, its clean interface and social networking integration has made music streaming easier than ever before. And with the ability for users to send tracks in a DropBox style way to record labels, it brings bands ever closer to the higher powers.

Bandcamp brings commerce into the equation and allows punters to stream bands’ music before they buy either digitally or physically. It ignores off the clunkiness of MySpace and is a one-stop-shop for bands to ply their wares.

And to Facebook – the social networking website with MySpace blood on its hands. It stole their users, but did it steal its bands? Facebook traditionally lags behind on band pages and it seems heavily reliant on third-party apps to let bands list their events and stream music. Advances on Facebook’s pages always seem to be slowly rolled out, but it is clear the website’s strength is in social networking, not music.

MySpace is still alive, but barely breathing. Soundcloud and Bandcamp however, seem to be billowing with life.

TwitReview: It’s rude to eat and tweet at the same time. Or is it?

Seeing a man chow down on his cheese and herb pizza and take out his BlackBerry to use Twitter might be about to become normality after details of a new unique restaurant review website emerged.

Twitreview
Picture courtesy of Flickr user rainydayknitter

TwitReview, which begins with a private beta launch in March before a full public unveiling later, spins on the idea that up-to-date restaurant reviews are indeed the best reviews. Out of date reviews are the scourge of any keen restaurant goer and they may, of course, lead to someone innocently picking the curry when they really, really shouldn’t have.

The service requires users to tweet reviews with an OWLi – a code unique to a particular participating restaurant or café – and a TwitReview hashtag. After the review has been filed, users can search on the website for recent reviews of the eatery – or, if you’re the head chef, check up on what people really think of your mussels.

One of TwitReview’s more redeeming features is its multimedia possibilities. Similar to how the every day man can indulge in a bit of citizen journalism via amateur photos and videos, Joe Bloggs will now be able to partake in citizen restaurant reviewing – meaning pictures and videos can accompany the text. And with strong multimedia functionality, the mind wanders with regards to other avenues TwitReview could explore. Retail reviews, or live music reviews, could be possibilities.

Its obvious drawback however – and one shared with most Twitter activities in general – is the 140 character limit. How are you supposed to wax lyrical about that sirloin steak in such a tight word limit? It’s a conundrum we’ll only really be able to work out when the service fully launches to the public later this year, but the signs are looking good for TwitReview. Bon Appetite, they say.

For more information, visit www.twitreview.co.uk

Flowd – The ‘loyalty’ based app that connects musicians with their fans

One of the biggest privileges of the internet is that it allows ‘everyday people’ to interact and collaborate with previously ‘untouchable’ people, businesses and forms of media and entertainment. Fans of music artists, not just minor supporters but ‘real’ fans, whose enthusiasm towards their musical idol borders on the obsession, are likely to be lapping up the broadband revolution, with internet stations such as Red Carpet Radio being launched and ultimately bringing fans closer to artists. It is within this field of thought that formed the dawn of ‘Flowd’, a free location-based mobile app that enables fans to directly interrelate with their favourite music acts.

Flowd

Essentially Flowd assists a relationship to form between musicians and their fans by facilitating a reciprocated conversation between the two entities, whom ultimately rely on each other for diverging reasons – Fans for escapism, freedom and entertainment, and musicians to effectively maintain their record deal.

The highly activist app, which was recently launched across Android and iPhone smartphones, boasts a unique ‘loyalty programme’. Grossly resonant of a Tesco ‘Club card’ or Boots ‘loyalty card’, fans essentially earn loyalty points based on the regularity and sincerity of their Flowd activity. Although whereas in Boots, you’re lucky if your receive a free lipstick for half a year’s loyalty and avoidance of walking through Superdrug’s doors, loyal Flowd followers are rewarded with points to receive exclusive access to content and merchandise from their favourite artists and groups.

Social media and networking has, of course, also given supporters the means to ‘get closer’ to their idols. Maintaining this favourable feature of the social media revolution, Flowd offers a wide range of social networking features. The app’s simple user interface means fans can share pictures, connect with friends, send messages and check-in to venues and gigs from sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

This prolific rise and continual evolution of the World Wide Web has seen many industries dramatically transformed and none more so than the music industry. With such a rapidly expanding and evolving business, a niche has certainly been crafted for services and apps such as Flowd, which connects artists with fans and vice-versa.

MySpace and Facebook team-up: Flogging a dead horse?

It might be akin to flogging a dead horse, but the more eagle-eyed social networking fans out there may have noticed that MySpace has had a bit of a facelift in an effort to reassert its position as a web heavyweight.

MySpace is a veteran of the social networking scene but the emergence of Facebook and Twitter has seen its popularity wane to a point where some of it’s most devoted users – especially bands and musicians – have begun to jump ship.

MySpace-Facebook

A lot of MySpace’s roots lie in music and entertainment, but with the likes of Bandcamp and Soundcloud offering simple, clean homes for streaming music, MySpace have been left wondering where to go next to reclaim all its lost souls.

And where does the revamp point to? Well, a lot of music it seems. In comes a new ‘Discover’ section, littered a smorgasbord of links to bands, music videos and other promotional gubbins. It’s all pretty clickable, and compared to its once clumsy looking interface, it looks sleek with a mature black and grey colour scheme.

Allied with the ‘Discover’ section is the ‘My Stuff’ tab, treading upon the finer details of social networking – giving you a chance to customise your profile, upload photos, search for new friends and indulge in all the usual networking.

Delve into this new-look portal deeper and its flashy make-up begins to dissipate, leaving you with the bare bones of a floundering social networking website.

On the other side of the spectrum however, Facebook has recently announced a new, all-inclusive messaging system which incorporates chat and texts alongside your traditional messages – a logical addition in the website’s quest to truly dominate the market.

Twitter, of course, has phased in a new layout, providing greater integration, navigation and smoother interaction.

With Facebook and Twitter covering most social networking bases, plucky entrepreneurial pizzazz is needed to break into the market. Perhaps most notably, foursquare has gained popularity in 2010 and its interactivity – like a distant cousin of social networking websites – sees users check in at various locations as they move around cities, doubling up as a travel guide and also a game.

MySpace’s deviation into what seems more like a social media hub rather than a social networking website is an interesting one, but with the likes of streaming program Spotify becoming hugely popular, it’s left to ponder whether MySpace has any sort of real future.