Facebook

Facebook Groups

The New Facebook Groups App

FacebookGroups-iPhone6Plus

When a company decides to break out functionality from it’s main app into a new separate app I keep my fingers crossed that they did so to make that functionality better and easier to use. For example, the Facebook Pages Manager is pretty good. I use it daily to interact with my Facebook fan pages. Also I’m one of those few that didn’t have a problem with the separate Facebook Messenger App. However, with the latter a case could be made that there was really no reason to break out the Messenger functionality. On the other hand I rarely use the Facebook Mentions App as I don’t see really anything that I can’t simply do in the Facebook Pages Manager App. That brings us to the latest Facebook App, Facebook Groups. As you might have guessed, the Facebook Groups app is designed to allow you to interact with the Facebook Groups that you are a part of. With the Facebook Groups App you can easily see which groups you are a part of and more easily jump between them to see and make new posts. You can add members to the group. You can approve new member requests for the closed groups as well as easily change the group’s settings such as name and description, the cover photo, privacy as well as leave a group that you were added to that you really don’t want to be a part of or ones that you no longer have any interest in. You can also search for groups to join. In other words it does the things you would expect from a new app designed to work with Facebook Groups, but that’s about it.

FacebookGroupsSearch-iPhone6Plus

 

There are no features that made me say, “that’s cool!”. Also it would be have been nice to have an iPad version. If you work with Facebook groups on a regular basis, then you’ll want this App simply because it makes accessing your group easier than within the Facebook App.
You can get the Facebook Groups app for free here iTunes.

 

terrywhiteGiftGuideGlobe-255

Facebook Mentions

Facebook Mentions App for Celebrities and Public Figures (like me)

facebook_mentions_iPhone

It seems that more and more social networks are coming out with multiple apps instead of trying to do it all in one. This has its plusses and minuses. When it comes to Facebook, there’s the general Facebook App, the Facebook Messenger App (that you’ll be forced to use soon), the Facebook Pages Manager App for people that have Facebook Pages and now a new exclusive app called Facebook Mentions for celebrities and public figures that have “verified” Facebook Pages. Once Facebook decides to verify your page as a celebrity or public figure you will then have access to the new Facebook Mentions app. One day the “verified” stamp appeared on my Facebook fan page and I didn’t think too much about it other than I wonder how they verified me? Now that the Facebook Mentions App is out I was invited to try it. I was intrigued to see what they offered us beyond the standard Facebook Pages app and to be honest I’m not really seeing a whole lot of difference between the two. As a matter of fact I seem to be able to MORE with the Facebook Pages app than I can with the Mentions app at this point. This means that I have to keep both on my iPhone. Speaking of iPhone, another pet peeve is that this isn’t a Universal app like the Facebook Pages app is. That also takes it down a notch as I’m not always doing social media on my iPhone.

What’s Mentions for?

At this point let’s cover what this App aims to do. Like the name implies you CAN very easily track your “mentions”. When someone mentions you (your page) in a post you see those posts in a nice tab/feed. Also for some odd reason the App requires you to follow at least one other celeb/public figure before you can even get started using the app. This seems like an odd request since the App is aimed at helping YOU connect with your fans better. You can post status updates, photos, and videos just like the other Facebook apps, but you can also start a Q&A.

facebook_mentions_QA

You can see what topics are trending so that you can jump in and voice your opinion, give your sage advice or simply be in the know about what’s going on in the world. After the initial day of use once I downloaded this app, I found myself back in the Facebook Pages app by default. I have to think to go to Facebook Mentions at this point which says to me it’s not solving enough problems yet or not letting me do enough things that make it a killer app.

Like most things with Facebook, this app will evolve and hopefully become more useful. However, at this point if you’re a celeb/public figure you may not get a lot of use out of Facebook Mentions just yet.

iTunes.

Instagram

Instagram Adds Video, thumbs nose up at Vine

instagram_video_iphone5

Apparently the folks at Instagram (Facebook) weren’t happy with Vine (Twitter) being so popular and they decided to add Video support to their popular photo sharing app. With the new 4.0 version of Instagram you can now post either pictures or up to 15 seconds of video with sound. Like some users I have mixed feelings about this. I think Instagram was doing pretty good at what it was already doing. Trying to be all things to all people rarely works. I would have almost rather seen them come up with a separate App for video so that people that want to post videos could do so and build a following of their videos. Nonetheless, it’s here and it’s probably here to stay. There are no surprises here in the interface. It works the way you would expect it to (very Vine like). You can switch from Camera to Video. You can hold down the record button to record continuously or do stop motion by tapping the button. I was a little surprised that you couldn’t choose an existing video on your camera roll though. This means you won’t be posting videos that you didn’t capture with your phone. That’s both good and bad. When recording your new Instavideo you can tap to focus. You can delete bad takes and once you have your masterpiece you can apply any one of 15 filters to it before posting. Thankfully since the videos can have sound you can turn OFF the autoplay feature in the preferences. Many will want to do that immediately. Nothing like scrolling through photos only to have a random video start blaring . It would be nice to have a pref to turn off videos period, but turning off autoplay will suffice. That means that I’ll only have to watch video that I actually want to watch by tapping to play them.

I like Instragram because it’s my one stop shop for posting pictures to social media. I simultaneously choose to post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Email, Tumblr and Foursquare (with check-in). I’ve not seen any other app that does that. I never really got into Vine and I now I will be less inclined to. My friends are on Instagram and now I can see their videos too (If I choose) in the one spot.

Let the booty shaking videos commence (LOL, but it’s true. You know it will happen).

Instagram - Burbn, Inc.

Facebook App Gets A Speed Update (FINALLY)!

To say that the Facebook App on iOS was slow is like saying that the sun is hot. It started to lag so bad that I stopped using it. I started using the mobile web version instead. When I got a push notification and tapped on it I would see the Facebook App load and just sigh knowing that I’d have to wait a couple of minutes before I could see what it was that I was being notified about.

Why was it so slow?

Facebook is a big company with lots of cash! So why would such a high profile social networking company have such a bad App? Your guess is good as mine. I can only guess that it just wasn’t that important to the powers that be. Perhaps Mark doesn’t use an iPhone. If he did, I doubt that he would have allowed the experience to be so bad. The problem was that the original App wasn’t a native objective-c App (at least that’s my understanding) and this new one is.

Is it faster?

A first glance, YES! It is definitely faster than the previous version, but they would have to work pretty hard for it not to be. Is it fast? Well that’s a different question. While it is faster, I still don’t consider it to be “fast.” I would say that now it’s probably usable.

Any other new features?

Sadly no. I was disappointed to see that on the iPad there still isn’t much of an improvement. For example, Pages still don’t have Timeline support on the iPad. So with this update it seems that they spent all of their time on speed and I welcome that! It’s still kinda embarrasing for a company the size of Facebook not to support their own new features in their own App, but it is what it is.

This goes out to ALL of the social media sites that have Apps. Please make your Apps at least as functional as your website. It’s a shame that the mobile web version of your Apps offer more than your native Apps!

iTunes

Instagram

10 iPhone Apps That I Can’t Live Without

I haven’t done this in a while and I’m always getting asked what Apps are “must haves” for new iPhone users. Usually I point them to our Top 100 List, but I thought it was time I shared with you my latest Top 10 Apps That I Can’t Live Without.

 

Instagram

I’m addicted. There I said it. I absolutely love Instagram, not as a replacement for my camera, or a place where I go to make “art”; but rather a really fun way to take, “filter” and share what’s going on with me at that moment with my friends.  There is a reason that it was Apple’s #1 App last year… If you’re on Instagram don’t forget to follow me @jlykins !

You can get Instagram for your iPhone for free from the iTunes store here: iTunes

 

Navigon

Navigon has made it into many of our lists over the past few years, and while we continually try out new navigation Apps, Navigon is by far our favorite over here at Best App Site. I use Navigon almost every single day. With it’s turn by turn Navigation, (new) street view, and awesome local search function, Navigon is the gold standard for iOS Navigation Apps.

You can get Navigon North America for $39.99 from the iTunes store here:iTunes

 

GasBuddy

While you’re out driving around with that new Navigation App you just bought, you will undoubtedly need some gas at some point. Make sure you find the cheapest prices around you by using GasBuddy from the website of the same name. Before there was the iPhone and the App, there was GasBuddy.com; a place where you could go to find the cheapest prices in town. Using crowd sourcing information, and location services GasBuddy can now find the cheapest prices near you, or near a destination of your desire.

You can get GasBuddy for your iPhone from the iTunes Store for free here: iTunes

 

Facebook

It seems like everyone is using Facebook these days, even big businesses. I access Facebook probably 50 times a day, and as such I want to be able to access it from my mobile phone with a semi-native App, meaning I don’t want to have to access it via mobile safari or other mobile browser. While we all know that there are some bugs and performance issues with the official Facebook App, it is by far the most full featured that I have found to date for iOS. If you’re on Facebook don’t forget to “like” the Best App Site Fan Page!

You can get Facebook for your iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

 

Chase

I love Chase Bank. I have been using them for a few years now. I also love the fact that I never have to go into the bank (unless I’m making a large withdraw). With the Chase App I can do all of the things that you would normally expect with a banking App, but I can also take pictures of my checks to deposit them! This saves me a trip to the bank and I appreciate that saved time.

You can get the Chase Mobile App from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

 

Nightstand Central

 

I long ago removed a “stand alone” alarm clock from my room. My iPhone is battery powered, auto updates for daylight savings time, and does more than my old alarm clock ever thought about! I like Nightstand central a lot because it has a ton of customizable features. backgrounds, alarms, songs, sleep timers, weather conditions, etc. You want it, this alarm clock App has it.

You can get Nightstand Central for your iPhone from the iTunes store for $1.99 here: iTunes

 

Dropbox

For those who don’t know, Dropbox is a cloud service for files that puts a local folder on your computer and automatically synchronizes that folder’s contents with the cloud. There are a ton of uses for it, and it’s free! If you don’t already have a Dropbox account, go here to sign up for one for free! Once you have a Dropbox account, and you’re putting your files there, make sure you can access them on the go from your iPhone with Dropbox for the iPhone. It’s an awesome App with a wonderful UI.

Get Dropbox for your iPhone from the iTunes store for free here: iTunes

 

MLB.com At Bat 2012

I’m a huge baseball Fan; specifically my hometown team the Cincinnati Reds. I go to a bunch of games every year, and when I can’t make it to a game, I like to keep up with what’s going on. MLB.com At Bat 2012 does that for me! With At Bat 2012 I can watch real time what’s going on at the games and keep up with all of the scores around the league. It’s hands down the best way to follow your favorite MLB team from your iPhone!

You can get MLB.com for free from the iTunes store (there is an in App purchase for full use) here: iTunes

 

Pandora

If you don’t know about Pandora, you’re missing out. This free online radio plays stations customized by you. You select the artist, genre, song, etc. and it selects “like” songs to play. You give songs the thumbs up or thumbs down to tell Pandora what you think of it and the App learns your musical likes for that station and plays the music that you want to listen to.

Get Pandora for your iPhone for free from the iTunes store here: iTunes

 

645Pro

Last but not least we have 645Pro. I did full review on this App a few weeks ago where I told you how this is the only camera App that allows you to save your photos in uncompressed Tiff format. It has phenomenal camera controls built in that are at your finger tips, and selectable quality settings. This is my go to App when I want the best possible photos out of my iPhone. I would recommend it to anyone that likes to take good photos with their phone.

You can get 645Pro from the iTunes store for $2.99 here:iTunes
There you have it! The top 10 Apps that I use daily or almost daily and can’t live without! I would suggest getting each and every one as they are the best of the best!

iStatus

Post Twitter, Facebook & Google+ Status Updates with iStatus+

It's pretty easy to find Twitter and Facebook integration just about everywhere. iOS 5 even has Twitter integration built-in and I don't think there's a social media friendly App out there that can't post to both of these main stream social networks. However, there's a fairly big new kid on the block called Google+. Google+ started out as kind of a private/public beta. You could only get in if someone that was already in invited you. Now it's open to the public and its numbers are rising. I have almost as many Google+ followers (over 13,000) as I have Twitter followers and that's pretty impressive since the site has only been open to the public for a short time. With so many people now on Google+ I want to be able to post status updates to all 3 networks. Sadly there are very few options for going straight to Google+ 

iStatus+ does all three

There is an App that can post status updates to all three social networks at the same time. iStatus+ has a simple interface that allows you to log in to all three networks (and stay logged in). Once you log in you can pick and choose which of the networks to post to or do all three at once. It has native Google+ support in that it even brings up your Circles to choose from before you post. 

This is GREAT, but there is one major thing missing. While it's great to be able to post to all three at the same time, I'd also like to be able to post the same photo to all three at once. iStatus+ currently only does text. There's no photo posting to any of the networks from this App. Granted it would be a little more challenging to post photos to Facebook and Google+ because you'd have to have Album support, but it can't be impossible. The only other thing I'd like to see is the ability to post a status update to a Facebook Page. Currently the App can only post to your Wall.  It would also be great to have a native iPad version.

Other than that it works as advertised and is the first App that I've seen that can do all three networks. 

You can get iStatus+ for $0.99 here from the iTunes

facebook

Facebook for iPad. It’s here!

Facebook for iPad

It is here. After a long time coming, Facebook has finally released their native iPad app which comes as a universal bundle. If you are not familiar with the terms, this means that the current iPhone app is now updated to allow support for iPad. Just check for updates in iTunes and version 4.0 will include the iPad app and the updated iPhone app in one. Although there is a lot that has changed in the iPhone app, I’m focusing on the iPad app today.

Interface

While using a browser and the normal Facebook version has been OK, the interface of the new iPad app far exceeds what you previously have been able to get using any official or third-party solution. They have clearly spent a considerable amount of thinking when designing the interface because it looks gorgeous and functions really well. Facebook has always put out great interfaces on their mobile apps at launch but then been far to slow to update the app afterwards. Glad to see they are not disappointing when it comes to the interface. We’ll just have to wait and see about the updates, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

It Lacks Features…

First thing’s first. There are some good things. It has become very easy to access your different pages and groups from a nice navigation menu that slides out when you swipe your finger across the screen. Additionally, accessing photos as well as games has become very easy, something Facebook themselves are touting with this app. Unfortunately, the app clearly lacks features! As an example there is no sharing from the iPad app, only commenting and liking. There are other small features here and there that makes the iPad app (and the iPhone app too since it looks and functions the same) just a dumbed down version (albeit good-looking) of the website. It is unfortunate that they have decided to leave just a little bit out, instead of adding it too. After all, we are talking features that Facebook are highlighting well on the main site.

Conclusion

Facebook has come out with a great app and there is no reason not to get it and play with it. It far exceeds any other option in terms of looks and apart from opening the Facebook site in your browser, it beats the other options in functionality. It would be great if they tried to match the features found in the iPad app and on the site, especially given how many use the iPad as their “main Facebooking device”.

Facebook - Facebook, Inc.

facebookmessenger

Facebook Messenger – Do we need it?

Facebook already has an iOS App called "Facebook". When I saw that they had come out with a separate Facebook Messenger app dedicated to sending messages to other Facebook users, I like many of you thought – why didn't they just build these new features into their existing App? That question remains unanswered, so let's take a look at the "new" Facebook Messenger App and what it does offer…

 

What's it for?

The Facebook Messenger App is designed to give Facebook users the ability to send messages to other Facebook users. Doesn't the Facebook App already do this? Yes, but the new Messenger App does a few things that the regular Facebook App doesn't. First of all and probably most important to me is that you can send pictures via this App to other Facebook users and they will see the photos whether they are using this App or simply logged into Facebook on their computers. Also with Messenger can not only send messages to other FB users, but any of your other contacts cell phones. This easily lets you skirt around any SMS limits you may have on your current cellphone plan. With messenger you can include your current location as well. This is especially helpful when trying to meet up with friends. Messenger does push notifications to let you know when you've received an incoming message.

 

What's missing?

While Messenger does what it does well, it has a couple of glaring omissions. The biggest one is that you can't see who is online right now and who isn't. The second one that I find really odd is that while the App does support landscape view, you can only compose new messages in portrait view. This will be a pain for two thumb messengers. Lastly and probably the most glaring omission is that like the existing Facebook App there is no native iPad version.

 

The Bottom Line

While I didn't really need a separate messaging App for Facebook, I will keep this one because it does things that the regular Facebook App doesn't do. I'm also fine with having a separate specialized App that's lean and fast, but i really don't see why these features couldn't have been added to the existing App and for God's sake please get the iPad versions out!

You can get Facebook Messenger for Free here from the iTunes

RockMelt

RockMelt Social Media Hub For iPhone

 

There are a bunch of Apps available these days to manage your social media experience. Many of them are "one trick ponies" that only manage one particular service such as Facebook or Twitter. There are a few Apps that keep track of all of this content in one place, but many are buggy and not quite as good of a user experience as the company sponsored Apps. That is until RockMelt. RockMelt brings all of your online content to one place for easy viewing, interaction, and use.  Not only does it keep track of your Facebook, and Twitter accounts, but it also lets you keep track of your favorite online content such as websites, blogs, and rss feeds. What makes RockMelt special isn't the content but how it displays and allows you to interact and view this content. With a simple UI (user interface), RockMelt lets you quickly and easily see if there is any new content available for each site or feed that you are following.

 

Desktop Application

RockMelt is a great stand alone content manager. When I first heard about, and downloaded it I didn't even know that there was a desktop counterpart to go along with it. After I logged in and started loading my content however, I realized that without the desktop application you are limited to the "popular" or suggested by RockMelt feeds. They have some of the most popular feeds available for selection right inside of the iPhone App, so some of the things you want to follow are ready to go, but if you want to follow say The Best App site, you have to add it on the desktop Application and it will sync over the cloud to your iPhone RockMelt App. (We are currently working on having The Best App site added to the suggested sites to follow, we'll keep you updated) My suggestion to you is this, download the desktop application first, and then download the iPhone App.

 

It Starts With Facebook

That's right, it starts with Facebook. The very first thing that you are asked to log in to upon launching the App is Facebook.  Doing this pulls your name, and profile picture strait from Facebook and sets them on RockMelt for your profile. It seems Facebook is the pivoting point for RockMelt and if you don't have a Facebook account, you can't sign in to use it. I'm not sure this is going to be a deal breaker for anyone because lets face it, if you don't have a Facebook account, you probably wouldn't want an App like this anyway. Before anyone yells at me, if you're that one person out there that has a Twitter account, has rss feeds that they want to follow, but don't have a Facebook account I'm sorry, you'll have to create one to use RockMelt. 

 

Where We Go From There

Like I said, you have to log in to Facebook to set up RockMelt, but from there the possibilities are vast. Within the iPhone App (not loading anything from the desktop application yet) you have a wide array of content to chose from. For example, I added my Twitter account @JasonLPhoto, CNN, The Oatmeal, Texts From Last Night, Fail Blog, Lifehacker, TechCrunch, Apple Hot News, and more just from the iPhone App! Each item has it's own icon, as well as it's name on what can be best described as a button. On the far right side of each button you will see a number indicating how many unread items you have for that particular site/rss feed. It's a simple yet effective UI.

Other useful features

As it stands Rockmelt is a really good content management App, however it does more. RockMelt has a built in browser of it's own so you never have to leave the App if you want to do a quick search for something on the web. Above the content buttons is a search bar that allows you to either input a search term or type in a web address. The search option launches Google with that search term inputted. Once you have found the web page that you are looking for you can either enter it and read/interact with it or you can use another of RockMelt's built in features, save for later. This will save the current content for viewing at a later time whether on or offline. This is a really handy feature. You can save things to view later when you might not have cell coverage, a really great addition.  The other nice thing about this feature is that it's across the cloud so if you save something on your desktop RockMelt browser to view later it also saves it on your iPhone to view later. Bookmarks too are synced across the cloud to both locations.

Adding Custom Content

Adding custom content to your selection is easy. Go to the desktop application and navigate to the website that you would like to add to your feeds. For example, go to http://www.terrywhite.com/techblog as I have in the image below. Click on the small green plus sign on the right side of the screen to open the Apps and Feeds Panel. From here you have to give it a few seconds to build the icon and pull the content. Once it does a green bar will appear under the Add Feeds heading that says "From Current Site". Click here and it will add that site, it's content and icon to your followed feeds. At this point all you have to do is refresh your feeds on your iPhone by pulling the content down until your see "release to refresh" and the new content will load. It's that simple. Now make sure that you add Best App Site and Terry White Tech Blog as in the example.

 

Room For Improvement

Let's be fair, this is a BRAND NEW App. They just released it this week so there will be updates in the future I'm sure, but there are a few things that I'd like to see. First, the interaction with Twitter and Facebook are basic. While you are able to do quite a bit within the Facebook portion of the App, most of the interaction revolves around your wall and news feed. There isn't near the control that you have with the actual Facebook App for iPhone. I hope that as time goes by RockMelt will add this control. The same goes for Twitter. There isn't near the control or functionality of the full on Twitter App. The basics are there however so tweeting, retweeting, replying, and seeing your @ mentions are all possible. Lastly, (and this is just me talking) I'd really like to see Best App Site as a recommended feed to follow :)

 

Best of It's Kind

This is the best App of it's kind I've seen so far. With the integration of the cloud and the desktop application coupled with the ease of use, I can't recommend this App enough to anyone wanting all of their social media content in one place fore consuming.

Get RockMelt from the iTunes store for your iPhone for free here: iTunes

friendly

Facebook Needs an iPad App

I use Facebook every day. When I'm on my computer I'm using Facebook in my browser. When I'm on my iPhone I use the Facebook App for iPhone. However, when I'm on my IPad I don't really have a single solution that works with all the features of Facebook. You can load Facebook in the iPad's Safari browser and by far this solution probably works best for most things. You see the same pages that you see in the desktop browser, but it's clear that the Facebook site is not optimized for tablets. In portait mode the width of the page doesn't quite fit. That's really not a big deal, but it shows me that they haven't considered tablets in their HTML/CSS design. What I can't live with is popup windows that don't scroll on the iPad.

In the window above, the complete contents of that popup window need to be scrolled to see all of what's there. However, on the iPad attempting to scroll that window with your finger scrolls the entire page. I run into these kinds of windows all the time and that are not touch friendly. Not to mention that in Mobile Safari you can't do things like upload photos.

UPDATE: You can scroll these pop up windows with TWO fingers. Thanks Frode. 🙂

 

The Mobile and Touch Versions of Facebook.com

It's true, Facebook does offer a Mobile Version and even a Touch Version of Facebook for phones and tablets. However, those pages are the least functional of them all and only offer bare minimum Facebook access.

 

3rd Party Apps

I have used a few 3rd Party Apps to access Facebook. Apps like Friendly Facebook for iPad, Pica HD, Social (no longer available) and Flipboard all do a great job in bringing "some" of the Facebook functionality to a native iPad App, but they are missing things too. For example, let's say I get a friend request and I bring up Friendly Facebook for iPad. The App allows me to accept the friend request, but I then have no ability to add the person to a List. In all fairness, none of the Facebook apps do this including the official Facebook App  for iPhone. So I have to do it in the browser. 

Pica HD on iPad 2

While no current solution is perfect, these Apps are worth checking out. My top two picks for BEST Facebook iPad Apps are Friendly Facebook (it's FREE) and Pica HD:

You can get Friendly Facebook for iPad for Free here from the iTunes

You can get Friendly Plus for Facebook for iPad for $0.99 here from the iTunes

You can get Pica HD – Facebook for iPad with Chat on sale for $1.99 here from the iTunes

You can get Flipboard for iPad for Free here from the iTunes

You can get the Official Facebook App for iPhone for Free here from the iTunes

 

The Bottom Line

Mark Zuckerberg recently said no Facebook App for iPad. I guess Mark doesn't use an iPad because if he did, this would be fixed! I don't really care whether Facebook develops a native App or not. However, they either need to make all functions of their site work in mobile Safari OR they need to develop a native App that allows full access to Facebook and ALL of its features. We're approaching a time where there will be a large population of people that only access the internet from mobile devices. Therefore your site or your App needs to provide all the features that a person would have accessing the site from a computer.

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