Silence at AccMan Towers doesn’t always mean there’s nothing going on, even if Monday was a public holiday in Spain. Instead I’ve been playing with a mobile widget builder: widgetbox. It’s a bit of a content distribution experiment which will run the next two weeks. If enough people like it then I’ll pay for the service and we’ll take it from there. Read through this because there are real lessons for professionals.
Here are some screenshots to give you an idea:
The screenshots were taken on my iPhone but it works on an Android device just as well.
From top left to bottom right what you see are the application pages as you work through the menu tabs. First are stories – ie all the latest stories from AccMan including a nifty image taken from the posts. Then comes my YouTube video feed. I could split this up but for the purposes of this exercise you get it all. Next is a Twitter tab based upon a search for UK + tax + accountants. Next comes a Share tab where you can link to the app using whatever method suits your fancy – Twitter, Facebook, email etc. Finally, there’s a page of Sponsor links. They help keep AccMan alive so it only seemed fair and it also filled out the space in the menu bar area.
I’d have preferred a tab that showed my iTunes podcast library but that looks like it will have to wait since the widget builder could not pick up the original podcast feed, even though I know it is valid since my podcasts are in the iTunes library. (fire up iTunes and search on AccMan and then subscribe on any device that plays MP3 files.) I was also going to put on an events calendar so you can see where I am (if you’re interested) but I was having problems getting the Google Calendar feed to show correctly. I’ll keep plugging away at that one.
Finally, there are two views of what a story looks like. The first shows what you see when you flick a story from the Story tab. It’s a full feed of the article but almost no formatting. The second shows a Google Mobilized version that is good enough to read on an iPhone but retains all the links. When you click on ‘Read the Full Version’ on an iPhone then it opens the iPhone browser to show this ‘version.’ It retains a lot of the navigation and other stuff that’s included in a story post. To that extent I think it’s a tad scruffy but again, it seems ‘good enough’ and that is the point for many iPhone/Android apps. If it is good enough then that is usually enough for most people unless you’re going to the trouble of custom coding and building such an app from scratch. If you don’t want to read the browser version then just tap ‘Back’ at the top left and it will take you to the list of posts.
One final little goody – you can install it as an app on your iPhone/Android device and you’ll get a whacked out cartoonish pic of yours truly to ‘enjoy’ as the app icon.
If you like it then give it a whirl. The widget can be found by going to http://wbxapp.com/accman on your MOBILE device (not from a computer.) It’s free. It can be installed very easily onto the home page of your device by tapping the Share tab and then following the drop dead easy three step Install process.
One word of warning. In my testing I found occasional glitches where stuff ‘disappeared’ and I needed to refire the app. The platform on which this is being built is hardening so expect improvement over time. However, if it remains ropey and I can justify the investment then I might just build this baby myself. iPhone/Andriod apps are not that difficult to build. It’s all about time and it is sometimes arguable where my time is best spent.
I know there are a shedload of people out there with BlackBerry devices. Tough nuts, you’re out of luck. But then since Iphone just overtook BlackBerry globally and wiser heads than mine think Android is the coming Next BIg Thing – who’s going to care that much?
Now to the learning bit. If I can make this work then you can too. Seriously – it is EAST PEASY. If content is valuable to your client groups think about how you might create mobile widgets for different groups? How about creating videos that address different groups or which showcase customers? Now can you see where this goes? Next step is obvious – creating timely content that deal with issues of importance to customers. Given most customers are not office bound but often tethered to their mobile device then how awesome is that? So…what other forms of content might you want to include? Twittter feeds? Facebook updates? The list goes on. I’m really excited about this. We’re at last starting to see the convergence of different media into a single location – the mobile device – that holds the potential for all manner of content aggregation and distribution for customers. If you’re not already on that train…hurry up – it’s leaving the station.