I’ve recently been trying out Zipiko, a very simple but powerful social tool for organizing events and ad-hoc get-togethers. Zipiko has a really good mobile Web UI through which you can develop your network by inviting friends to events via their phone numbers. Your friends get an SMS which they can respond to with a simple “YES” or “NO” to let you know if they’re coming or not. Unlike some mobile Web apps comming onto the market, Zipiko seems to realize that not everyone lives in the United States and has thankfully enabled international phone numbers – thanks!
Zipiko is an example of a really great mobile Web app: it’s simple, it’s well designed, it’s well suited to the mobile use case and it integrates well with text messaging. Unfortunately it does NOT work well with low-spec browsers. I tested it on iPhone and on Windows Mobile (mobile IE) where it seemed to work well. On Blackberry (my “low bar” for mobile browsers) it was a disaster.
But what really struck me was how much better Zipiko could be if had access to device capabilities and information stored in your device. Instead of asking me to type in the phone numbers of my friends, it could simply look them up in my address book. Instead of asking me where I am, it could look up my location. It could automatically syncronize events with my device’s calendar. This is a comon theme, particularly for social web apps.
This access to device capabilities from the browser or “web runtime” environment is what I’m working on this week, in Austin at meetings of an initiative called BONDI. BONDI is attempting to drive standardization of these APIs and the security model around their use (you wouldn’t want just any Web app poking into your address book or locating you). This was also a real topic of interest for the Mobile Widget Camp which I helped to run on Sunday in collaboration with Enrique Ortiz and the Austin Technologi Incubator. More on that in a follow-up post.
After trying out Zipiko, I’m more convinced than ever that the industry needs interoperable mobile web apps and widgets that can access device capabilities.
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