A Couple of Fun Apps, Part I

Everywhere you turn these days, social media dominates the technological landscape. It’s become a crowded space, to say the least. You’ve got Facebook. Twitter. 4square. Gowalla. Tumblr. WordPress. Blogger. Buzz. I could go on and on. It seems that whatever your needs, there’s some sort of social media answer. Some of the majors have tried to edge in on the more niche markets, too. Facebook tried to implement the mention features of Twitter and the geotagging of 4square/Gowalla with moderate-at-best results. I hardly ever see mentions used and tagging even less so.

Regardless of the proliferation of social media outlets, I’ve found myself enjoying a few of the smaller efforts that seem to be targeted at niche areas. There are two iPhone social media apps that I’ve been using recently that I’ve found quite unique and entertaining. I’ll profile one in this post and the second in a later post, either tonight or tomorrow.

The first is Maphook. At first blush, Maphook is a hybrid of geotagging and journaling. But I think that’s a bit of a crude generalization of the service. Spend a little time with it and you’ll realize just how deep its features are. When you create a post, called a “Hook,” you’re automatically geotagging your location. You first select the category for your hook and create a title. The category option is surprisingly deep, with sub-categories to increase the diversity of your hooks. Then you write your entry, which can be as long as you like it or simply a few notes. Depending on the type of category you choose, you’ll have additional options for rating the location; for instance, if you select “Going Out” and “Restaurants” as your category and sub-category, you’ll be given additional options to give the location an Overall Rating, tell folks whether you’d eat there again, rate the price of the meal and the service. Options also exist to hook into Yelp and Wikipedia. Once you’ve finished with the main body and ratings, you can tweak the location of your hook and add photos that will be shared.

I used Maphook the most during our trip to Colorado back in September. Once you’ve uploaded hooks, you can go on the web and string them together to create a story. This feature is pretty fantastic, because the geotagged hooks serve as map points on your journey. When you share the story with your friends, they’ll be able to roadmap your adventures. I think this is the feature that really kept me creating hooks during the trip. Oh, and by the way, if you want to check it out, here’s a link to my Colorado trip story.

The service isn’t without its flaws. I had some problems with posting to Twitter, and for a while they didn’t have a way to share your hooks on Facebook directly. The service doesn’t seem to have a fleshed-out friends or follow system, which can either be a positive or a negative, depending on your perception. The story feature seems to be something you have to do from the web platform also.That being said, I’ve found the developers to be the single-most responsive and helpful group of folks I’ve interacted with in customer service in a very long time. I started following the Twitter feed @maphook and received a re-follow within minutes. They were very responsive to questions, keeping me up to date on questions I had and workarounds for problems. They’re also constantly updating the service and looking for feedback on how to improve it. These guys are committed to making Maphook one of the most unique services around. If you have an iPhone, check it out.

Ok, I know I said a couple of apps, but this post has run a little long and I’ve got to get moving. I’ll update you with my other app a little later on.

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