Zipiko: A Great WebApp that Could be Even Better

Zipiko Screenshot
Zipiko Screenshot

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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3 Comments on “Zipiko: A Great WebApp that Could be Even Better

  1. Hi, I’m the Creative Director at Zipipop and I think this entry hits the nail on the head fair’n’square. The service is already meeting many peoples’ needs, however, being able to link your existing phone contacts ‘seamlessly’ with the Zipiko service is an ideal; and something that has troubled us from the beginning. But how best to solve the issue?

    It was great to hear about the BONDI initiative and we will be keeping a close eye on it. SyncML is two steps too fiddly for an ‘average’ user and a lot of extra work to please the early adopters – although it might be worth it just for them.

    In the meantime we are implementing some more human approaches to speed up the contact adding process. We already have ‘PEOPLE WHO HAVE ADDED YOU’ and will soon be adding ‘FRIENDS OF FRIENDS YOU MIGHT KNOW’ – ranked in order of probability. Later you will also be able to see and add people within your GROUPS.

    We are improving the system to work better on low-spec browsers in the hope of avoiding a seperate m. version. If we succeed this will obviously help with consistency. And automate location tracking is something that we are looking into future.

    We will be following your updates closely – much thanks on behalf of us Zipipopers.

  2. Just to let you know that we have added a mobile contact uploading applet to Zipiko – so that half solves the contacts issue. You can also quickly build up your contacts from within the Groups. We have also added some basic admin functions to groups giving you control over who can post.

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