Tag Archives: apps

Is Peach the next big social networking app? Or is it already seeing a slow, painful death?

 

peach-app

“Peach is a refreshingly fun and simple way to keep up with friends and be yourself.” -Apple Store description.

 

Peach, the private social networking app loaded with innovative features, but lacking in usability and a large user base, may already be a thing of the past, according to recent headlines.

Peach officially launched eight days ago.

You read that right. Peach launched a mere eight days ago and its potential is already in question. Is the online world really that consumed (and satisfied) with only a handful of social networking mainstays (namely Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) that an innovative, exciting new app can’t penetrate the market? Sadly, it’s getting increasingly difficult for a new social networking service to compete with the big guys. Peach has my attention, and the potential contend with the heavy hitters, but can it rise to the challenge?

It’s been awhile since a new social networking site or app has really caught my eye. Draw Something was more of a mobile game than a social networking app, but it definitely roped me in due to its incredibly addictive attributes.

Path, the social networking app that set a limit of only 50 friends you could connect with, came and went before I even had a chance to write about it.

Pinterest definitely won me over, even triggering a blog post about the visual bookmarking tool being a ‘game changer.’

Ello was apparently all the rave for a few short months about a year ago. I was an early adopter of Ello, but never really saw its benefits. With nothing particularly innovative or unique about it, I stopped using Ello just about as soon as I signed up. It’s still in service, but is anyone talking about it? Have you Ello’d lately?

I never wrote about Snapchat, but we all know the success the disappearing messaging app has seen. Snapchat is so popular that it’s now entering its “mom moment” of social networking sites—when an app or service becomes so popular that even your mom starts using it.

Maybe I’m not too good at this whole trend-spotting thing. Of the services mentioned above, Pinterest is the only social networking site that has had real lasting power. Pinterest is growing, and I still find myself browsing through hundreds of pins nearly every day.

Starting a new online social networking service is a difficult task. Just barely into its second week of operation, Peach is already seeing a flood of naysayers. A recent blog post on Social Media Today suggests Peach won’t stick, but that existing social networking power houses should adopt some of its features. A Mashable article suggests the ‘week-old social network named Peach may already be over,’ and that Facebook should buy it up.

One thing most who have used Peach love is how innovative it is. Its ‘magic words’ feature allows you to type in certain words or phrases that prompts a special action to include in your post. It’s a fun addition and one that most people would love to see integrated with Facebook and Twitter. Magic words include typing things such as “gif” to search for an animated gif within the app to easily and seamlessly include in your post. Typing “draw” gives you the ability to make a quick sketch to include with your post. Typing “weather” brings up current conditions, “here” adds your location, “goodmorning” prompts the time of day along with a couple emojis, and so on.

Peach is getting a ton of coverage for such a young start up, but unless it finds a way to dramatically grow its user base and greatly improve its ease of use, it’ll end up as a mere footnote in social media history (or a social media ghost town of sorts). Lastly, Peach must continue to innovate. It’s what helped Peach make a splash in the first place and it will need to keep giving users more in order to stay alive and relevant.

What are your thoughts? Will Peach last? Are you on Peach? Add me! Peach username: @eric_wheeler

Further reading:

Eric Wheeler is a social media specialist based in Massachusetts. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and his Master of Science degree in Mass Communications from St. Cloud State University. He is currently taking Northwestern University’s Social Marketing Specialization MOOC offered by Coursera. Follow Eric on Twitter and Instagram.

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Draw Something takes the world by storm: 20 million active users in seven weeks

Draw Something: "Cowboy" by Eric Wheeler

My drawings on Draw Something have gradually gotten more detailed as the weeks have gone by.

Lately I’ve been obsessing over Draw Something. It seems I am not alone. The newest sensation in the world of smartphone apps gained 20 million active users in just a shade under two months. Available in both the iOS App Store and Android Market, Draw Something is a simple idea created by OMGPOP, which was acquired shortly after its launch by mobile gaming powerhouse Zynga for $180 million. The concept of the game is to–you guessed it–draw something for your friend. The hook is that the other player gets to watch you draw the picture in a Pictionary-style animation. Definitely a game for people of all ages.

The first few weeks I spent on Draw Something mostly consisted of stick figures and outlines of objects. With a limited, yet diverse word bank to choose from before each turn, I have expanded my skill and creativity by pushing myself to draw more detailed drawings. Some people have gone a little overboard, but there are definitely some amazing drawings floating around on the Web.

Hopefully the acquisition by Zynga will not harm the simplicity of the app as they work to further monetize off the early success of the app. I came across a clever animated infographic on Mashable earlier today and just had to share it. The folks at  MBA Online created the infographic and have gathered some staggering statistics regarding the success of Draw Something.

Draw Something

Created by: MBAOnline.com


Tweet-A-Beer: An app for buying your friends a beer via Twitter

Tweet-A-Beer app for buying a beer via Twitter.If you’ve kept a close eye on my Twitter stream, you may have noticed my occasional update on the world of craft beer. Or, maybe you’re aware of my love for a well-crafted brew because you’ve shared one with me. Either way, I’m announcing here on my blog that I enjoy a good beer (shocking, I know).

As most beer lovers would admit, the only thing better than enjoying a well-balanced frothy cold one is enjoying a well-balanced frothy cold one for free. Equally rewarding is sharing a beer with a friend and picking up the tab yourself. Certainly a nice gesture in any environment. The problem, though, is you can’t always be at the local watering hole with your buddy or maybe you’re both out-and-about, but in different locations. I hate to use a cliché here, but well, there’s an app for that! Online networking app Tweet-A-Beer allows for the payment of other Twitter users’ drinks. Cool, right?

I have yet to give the app a try, but it sounds pretty straightforward. Tweet-A-Beer syncs your Twitter and PayPal accounts so you can safely send beer money in $5 allotments. Tweet-A-Beer appropriately rolls out during South by Southwest in Austin, Tex. this weekend.

The Tweet-A-Beer website describes it quite eloquently:

Tweet-a-Beer was brewed and bottled by tenfour and Waggener Edstrom, longtime drinking buddies in Portland, Oregon. Tweet-a-Beer connects your Twitter and PayPal accounts together to ensure that distance, agoraphobia, and gang rivalries no longer prevent you from sharing a pint.

Please tweet responsibly.

Of course, you’re not actually purchasing a beer, you’re just offering to pay for $5 of their experience. Or as Doug Gross at CNN put it:

Technically, we suppose you could use those five bucks at iTunes or Amazon, for online gambling of dubious legality or, well, most anything. But there must be some bad karma associated with not buying an e-beer when a buddy has taken the time to tweet it your way.

With me, however, you can Tweet-A-Beer with confidence by knowing I will enthusiastically consume a hoppy pint and thank you for the kind gesture. I’ll probably announce to the entire bar what a cool guy/gal you are too. So, tweet me a beer. You’ll make my day. My Twitter handle is @eric_wheeler.

Redeeming a beer seems pretty simple as well. According to the FAQ page on the app’s website you just click the Tweet-a-Beer link mentioned in the tweet and follow the steps. Additionally, you will then be set-up to pay-it-forward and start tweeting beers to others, too.

As a PR guy, I can appreciate knowing the app was developed by Waggener Edstrom Worldwide and tenfour with no profits gained. The recipient’s PayPal account is charged a small fee of 10¢ to cover Chirpify’s fee. Chirpify is a ‘Twitter commerce’ platform used to make sure the transaction is secure. Read about their service here.

Please retweet this post and post your comments below responsibly.


My Personal Top 10 Instagram Photos of 2011

This has turned out to be my most popular photo on Instagram.

By now I am sure you have all read plenty of top 10 lists and ‘best of 2011’ countdowns. I promise you, however, I am not just sticking with the trend on this one. I could write a typical list of the year’s biggest stories in PR or social media, but I want to write about something that has truly changed me for the better.

When I joined Instagram a little over a year ago, I mostly used it to capture some of the little moments in my life–attending a concert, ogling over a sandwich I just made or posting a snapshot with friends. I mostly just snapped a quick picture and applied one the awesome filters from Instagram–without giving it much thought.

As the months carried on, I started participating in the many photo challenges and playing a more active role in the vast Instagram community (now with more than 15 million users). Soon my creativity started to blossom and I began using many extra photo apps to edit my photos. I began pushing myself to take photos from new angles and to bring about extra meaning to my images.

Throughout the past year I have grown as a photographer. While I still maintain a rather traditional approach when I have my Nikon D90 in-hand I do feel the creative power of Instagram and “iPhoneography” has brought me to a level beyond novice photographer. Shooting a wedding, doing outdoor portraits and low-lit concerts have helped refine my skills as a photographer and they have definitely helped me gain a better understanding of my equipment. However, Instagram has opened up my imagination and allow me to be more accepting of the editing process as a whole. After all, photography in its most premitive form does entail a certain amount of manipulation. Rarely (if ever) will a photograph appear exactly as it would in real life. Even if you are the perfect photographer who can almost always get that near-lifelike image; photography is an art form and should be treated as such.

The photos below represent my personal top 10 from the past year with my most popular photo at the top of this post. If you’re on Instagram, please follow me: @eric_wheeler. You can also view my full list of top photos of 2011 by searching the hashtag #wheelers_best_of_2011.

I should note all the photos above were taken and edited with only my iPhone. I had a few worthy shots from my Nikon D90, but wanted to only post photos from my iPhone. Probably my most notable non-iPhone photo I took involved using my Nikon D90 and a tripod during a July Fourth fireworks display in St. Cloud, Minn. Cheers to another year of Instagram!


My Arsenal of Photography Apps for the iPhone

My iPhone 4 not only takes great photos, there are also lots of great photography apps.

My iPhone 4 not only takes great photos, there are also lots of great photography apps.

When I decided to buy an iPhone 4 a little less than a year ago, I was mostly excited about being able to update social sites from my phone, check email and keep my life better organized. Little did I know … the iPhone 4’s camera turned out to be my favorite aspect. That does make sense considering I’m a photographer. However, I really did not think I would be using my iPhone as much as I do to snap artistic, high-quality photos.

The mobility of the iPhone (it is always with me) and the high quality images produced makes it the perfect everyday camera. The Apple iPhone 4 has unparalleled specifications including five megapixel images, optional HDR, tap to focus and a 2.8 F-stop. Add in thousands of photo apps available in the iTunes market, and the iPhone is hard to beat. Listed here are my 13 photography apps I keep on my iPhone:

  1. Instagram is a must for photographers or anyone with creative intuition. This five-star rated app creates a social experience based around the application of a variety of filters to photos taken in the app itself or from photos in your iPhone’s photo library. Added bonuses include tilt-shift generation, ability to tag your photos and share your creations on several social media sites and email. 100 million users can’t be wrong. Read my full Instagram app review herePrice: free.
  2. Adobe Photoshop Express (PS Express) allows basic edits to photos such as contrast, exposure, saturation and tint. There are also a few basic filters, effects and borders you can apply. I have the free version and is all I need for quick edits. The $4.99 upgrade might be worth it if you do not plan on purchasing any additional photo apps. Price: free.
  3. MagicShutter is a great concept, but not very intuitive. The idea is for the app to turn your iPhone into more of an actual SLR camera by being able to control exposure lengths. I have definitely made some cool photos with this app, but every time I use it, I have to re-teach myself. Still fun though. Price: $2.99.
  4. TiltShiftGen is another favorite photo app of mine. If you are familiar of tilt-shift photography then you will love this app. When I first got into tilt-shift photography, I was using a long, complicated post editing process in Photoshop and it was hard to get the effect just right. This fantastic app does all the work for you and has the necessary saturation, brightness, contrast and vignetting features to get exactly the effect you want. Price: $0.99.
  5. SnapShot Postcard is another great concept and one I wish I had when I was traveling through Europe–finding postcards, correct postage and a place to actually mail them while traveling can be a pain. This app does all that for you. The best part? You get one free postcard with your download. Price: free.
  6. PostalPix is a similar concept; only instead of sending postcards, it simply allows you to order prints directly from you phone. Prints start at 29¢ and offers some miscellaneous products such as metal prints and mouse pads. Price: free.
  7. Tiny Planet Photos is a novelty app that is really only fun a few times. It turns your photos into a … you guessed it, a “tiny planet.” You have to have the right style of photo for it to work right. Here’s my best photo, with the “early bird” filter applied using Instagram. Price: free.
  8. 360 Panorama is another app that has a great concept, but is a little difficult to get good results. The app creates a full 360 degree panorama in real-time. You just hold the phone out and hit record. Kind of fun, but I think I wasted my money on this one. Price: $1.99.
  9. AutoStitch is similar to 360 Panorama, but it does not capture the image in real time. Instead, the users takes several photos and then lets the app stitch them together automatically. This is definitely a cool app and very easy to use. Price: $1.99.
  10. Halftone is another novelty app for bringing a little life to your pictures. The app provides several comic book-like filters and the ability to add captions and thought bubbles to photos. Definitely a fun app. Price: $0.99.
  11. Photosynth is another real-time panoramic photo app developed by Microsoft. It has a five-star rating, but I find it a little difficult to use. The most recent upgrade allows users to submit photos to Bing maps. Try it out for yourself. Price: free.
  12. Postagram is an awesome app similar to SnapShot Postcard. What sets this app apart is the ability to choose photos from your phone, Facebook or Instagram. Additionally, you can add a personal message, save addresses and the photo pops out of the card! Also, an online version of the card is saved as well and the recipient can easily post it on Facebook or thank the sender. If you have Instagram, this is a must have. I send Postagrams as thank you notes all the time. Price: free. *Bonus – follow this link and you and I will both get a credit to send a free card: http://sincerely.com/u/2oo4s6.
  13. WordFoto is a really cool app that acts as a word cloud for photos. Take any photo, add some text and the image automatically converts to words. Sort of a hard concept to explain, so look at some images created here. Price: $1.99.

Life is Different with a Smart Phone

wheeler has an iphone

I was pretty excited when I got my iPhone...

More specifically, life is different with my Apple iPhone 4. I think most people see me as a tech savvy person, mainly because my Tweets and my blog focus on social media and its relation to the field of public relations. Anyone who knows me at a more personal level knows I cannot be away from my iPhone for more than a few minutes. However, it was only a few years ago when I purchased my first cell phone and only a few months since I upgraded my seemingly worthless Sony Ericsson slider phone.

I waited as long as I could to purchase my first cell phone. I was a sophomore in college when I finally walked into AT&T to start my first plan. This came as a necessity. I was president of my fraternity and vice-president of the student body at the time and I was always needing to contact someone and having to go home to look up a number and make the call from my dad’s land line was not very practical. So I caved in and bought my first phone.

As I upgraded phones through the years, I gradually started using more and more features–from text messages to video–my phone was becoming more important. When I put my slider phone through the wash a few months back, I decided it was time to make a true investment and upgrade to an Apple iPhone 4.

I was never really satisfied with any of my prior phones and this was a major step for me, which coincidentally came with a larger monthly bill. I ultimately made the decision based on a plethora of needs. I was becoming more tech and social media minded and I felt this would be the perfect way to really help me become more influential in the social media world. Besides that, I was forgetting things all the time–meetings, deadlines, due dates of class assignments, etc. Getting a smart phone would hopefully alleviate some of these problems.

Sure enough, I was able to sync the handy email and calendar to my Google account and now I get notified anytime something important comes up and I almost never forget anything. Google apps makes it easy to search by typing in keywords, speaking into my phone or even by snapping a picture–so the answer to any of life’s questions are always just a moment away. I downloaded Textfree so I could send unlimited text messages without running up my monthly bill. I downloaded a few games to keep my attention when I’m bored (may I suggest Angry Birds?). I have several photography apps for my creative side (instagr.am is awesome). I have several news apps so I always know what’s going on in the world and most importantly, I have several social media apps to help me build my online reputation.

In short, I feel lost without my iPhone and I am always using it, tweeting, checking email, reading news, checking weather, using the GPS and of course communicating with friends and family. Lastly, I would pitch the iPhone 4 specifically for the FaceTime function. It’s great to walk across campus while video chatting with a friend. It’s even more fun to FaceTime with to my niece in Texas who I never get to see.

Blog inspired by Mary MacDonell Belisle.


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