Your Mobile-Social Inbox

On the move and moving on, mobile usage is on a steep rise. What a coincidence, so is social networking. With email, messaging, chat, Facebook, Twitter and other conduits of communication, you need to be ready 24-7 to read and respond.

I admit it. I do a lot of my virtual social interaction when I am in line at the grocery checkout, waiting for my kids, between meetings or hanging out in waiting rooms. On my phone. Why not? My phone is pretty smart.

Well, for social addicts with iPhones, the phone is getting even smarter. Two new apps have brought the social inbox to your phone, organizing your friends messages and status updates in ways that improve efficiencies and interactions.

One such app, Twezr (link here), I have been using for more than a month now. The second, Friends, I just learned about a few days ago, but have yet to try.

What exactly is a social inbox? Think about your email inbox, add layers of social connections and provide the means to reach out to your contacts via any of those social conduits from one place.

Twezr combines your social media and your email in a single interface. It supports a lot of different email addresses, including Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail. You can also access Twitter and Facebook, including multiple accounts. The value-add to Twezr is its automatic prioritization – your contacts and their messages and status updates (which are organized in separate tabs) are ranked based on the frequency of your interactions. Twezr applies this ranking to the messages as well as the Facebook and Twitter updates. Twezr also matches your iPhone contacts with your social lists to create unified contacts – when I click on a friend’s Facebook or Twitter status update, I am given buttons to communicate with her by phone call, SMS or email.  Talk about a communications mash-up! If I happen on a particular friend’s status update on Facebook in Twezr, but I know she is an SMS kind of gal, I can respond to her update via SMS within the app, rather than send a Facebook message from within the Facebook app. Very, very cool indeed. THe built in Twitter and Facebook clients are not bad either, you won’t find yourself insanely frustrated by a poor feature set – the necessary functions are all there.

Twezr also allows you to run full-text searches across e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook. So if you remember your friend pinging you about a particular event, but you can’t remember which email account or social network you saw the info on, just search in Twezr and you hit all the major hiding places in one fell swoop. Best of all, Twezr is free.  It has become a regular go-to app on my phone to get the latest info and messages from my growing list of contacts. Note, though, that it takes Twezr a while to get up and running, particularly if you have a lot of contacts. It needs to pull your data, analyze it and spit it back out, Twezr style and that can take a while. I initially thought the app was defective. Lo and behold, three days later, I had the full-on Twezr experience.

Next up, Friends (link here). Like Twezr, Friends offers contact management across your phone’s address book, Twitter and Facebook, but adds LinkedIn, and MySpace. Like Twezr, Friends allows you to also see your social streams and update your social status within the Friends app.  Although I do not have the app yet, screenshots show a very pretty user interface, might snazzier than the free Twezr. Oh, I should mention that Friends costs a whopping $1.99, which they clearly put into the visuals. It is a super way to browse shared content, with comments and commenting within the app as well. Of course, you can place calls within the app too, which then leverages the iPhone’s own phone functions.

Essentially, these apps bring an experience to the mobile phone that Threadsy (link here) brings to your browser and Xobni (link here) brings to your Outlook inbox and what Facebook is hoping to do with its new social inbox product that it intends to roll out soon – one stop shopping for your social and communications needs. And with the quickening pace of life, you really can’t have too many shortcuts.

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Making Your Business Card Play Fetch

I admit I have a thing about business cards. Not sure why. I guess I have always loved the graphical representation of a person’s vitals  in two-dimensional format.

I also have a thing about modern iterations of the business card, and have discussed options in previous posts here in the Studio (link here).

Today I found another modern appliance for exchanging contact information: CloudContacts (link here).

CloudContacts is an application that takes your business cards, scans them, and exports them into your email application of choice or whatever system you use for maintaining your contacts.  They also are stored on the web (handy backup). You can see images of your cards on-line. CloudContacts will either return the cards to you or will recycle them (how green!). As stated on their site, CloudContacts accepts cards in the following ways:

  • Mail – shipped via postal mail, FedEx, UPS, DHL and other package carriers
  • CloudContacts Mailer – we can send you a postal mailer – U.S. only – small shipping charge applies
  • NYC Pickup – orders of 300 credits or more – we can pickup your cards at your home or office
  • Email Upload – cards can be emailed via scan or photo using your custom CloudContacts email address
  • Mobile Email – cards can be sent using your mobile phone
  • The really cool part, though, is that CloudContacts will then take that information, go forth out into the wilds of the Social web, collect that person’s social profile information, and bring it back to you. Takes the sleuthing out of your complete connection activity. Available networks included Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Plaxo. Supported email and CRM services included Salesforce, Highrise, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, Entourage, Thunderbird, Exchange, and Gmail. More are to be added.

    CloudContacts costs. One credit is good for one business card. $29.95 gives you 100 credits and economics scale in your favor as you ncrease the number of credits you purchase.

    But, if you depend heavily on securing cards and managing that information in a Web 2.0 way, CloudContacts seems a decent investment.