Voki begins to Twitter

 imageNow Voki has a new trick up its sleeve - the next version of the Voki avatar will link to Twitter and lip synch to your Twitter messages.

Voki is the site that came up with the slightly doleful looking avatars that you can pattern after your own likeness and embed on your web page. When visitors arrive at a web page, the Voki’s moppet like eyes follow the mouse around the page, and mouth snippets of wisdom.

Fred Wilson of A VC reports that the Voki avatar service from Oddcast, one of his portfolio companies, will let you link Voki to other services such as Twitter, in its next release.

Could be an attention grabber for a web page, but it still remains to be seen if an animated avatar can have real commercial value.

Earlier we reviewed Fix8, where you can impose an avatar image on your video, to make your own animated action movie strip. Great technology but again, it will be interesting to see how this category of eye candy can be monetized.

Technorati Tags: voki, twitter, fix8


Explode - the social engine for social sites

Explode is a “meta-social engine” that lets you gather together all your friends on various social networks in one place, and lets you communicate with them, even if they are on a different network. You can view their profiles and leave them messages.

For those who have been groaning under the weight of their multiple social networks, this is a great idea!

However, a  like this is hard to implement, for a couple or reasons.

1. Major sites are not accessible: respects robots.txt and does not catalog profiles from sites which do not allow it (robots.txt is a gatekeeper file which site owners can implement with directions on how they want their sites to be viewed by search engines). Well, that excludes Facebook and Myspace, both of which shun search engine robots at the door.

2. Hard to correlate user info: While on many social and professional networks, members use their real names, on sites like YouTube (that Explode does search) the norm is to use more “fun” names so it will be difficult for an engine such as Explode to connect a member’s different persona from various social sites.

Explode does plan to implement OpenID, which allows users to use a single digital identity across the web, so Explode will work for those who choose to be found.

Explode has made a good start with social networks such as YouTube, Twitter, , Tribe and Flikr. It does not cover business sites such as , yet. It goes a step beyond people search engines such as , by allowing people to connect across the networks.

Explode is an engine to watch as they build up more steam in the social networking arena!

Technorati Tags: Explode, Facebook, myspace, youtube, twitter, jaiku, flikr, social network, social search engine


iPhone - a few (color coordinated) widgets needed

   Guess who is opening up its platform - yes, the very last company that would come to mind - one that’s synonymous with “proprietary” - Apple! The company that taught us that function must follow form, and used color as their competitive differentiation, is now releasing an SDK (software development kit) so that anyone can build an application for the iPhone

The release of the iPhone SDK is slated for February of 2008 (in June of 2007 they announced that they would Apple would start supporting 3rd party applications built to Web 2.0 standards). Their current suite of web 2.0 apps include TwitterFacebook and Mundu. No doubt there will be a big rush to build widgets once they officially launch the new platform.

One thing is clear though, no matter what the application, the icon color better be just right!

 

Technorati Tags: iphone, apple, sdk, twitter, facebook


Roundup: Cleverest voicemail apps

There are several innovative voicemail applications that we have tested and reviewed recently. They all have very useful feature sets, with one or two whiz-bang elements that makes them quite unique.

Jott: This is a voicemail to text or voicemail to email service. You leave a voicemail message at the Jott phone number, from your registered cell phone, and the message gets translated into text and delivered to your email inbox or phone sms, if you send it to yourself (reminder, calendar item etc.), or it gets sent as an email to anyone you pick from your contacts list.

The strong point of Jott is that the translation is flawless. I’d really like to know how they do that! Having tried various desktop translation softwares, where you have to train the application endlessly to recognize your accent, I have yet to find one that has better than 90% accuracy. Yet Jott works with your normal speaking voice. One thing though, the text gets delivered after a few minutes of “processing”, so one wonders if there is not some human editing going on in the background.

YouMail: YouMail is a service that takes over the voicemail service from the carrier and routes it to their servers where you can pick up your voicemail in the usual way, or have it emailed it to you, and of course you can store it all forever.

The nicest feature of Youmail is the fun library of greetings that you can use to set up your outgoing greeting individually, by user. You can also add a “This phone is disconnected” message for people you don’t want to hear from, or use their famous “Ditchmail” for unwelcome suitors.

CAllWave is a voice mail and voice to text service. Callwave lets you set up a voicemail box on their server so your callers can leave you messages.

The really useful feature is that the messages get translated into text and forwarded into your email inbox or to SMS on your cell phone, in text form, along with the name of the person who called (from the caller ID). The text translation does not work perfectly but you can get the gist of what the caller is trying to say. The ability to “read” the voicemail (specially when you are in meetings) - and getting it filed in text fashion in your inbox is a huge plus.

Pinger is a hands free alternative to SMS. It is unobtrusive voicemail that you leave for others. If someone is in a meeting and you don’t want to bother them, you “ping” them, ie leave a voicemail on their cell phone number. The Pinger site lets you check if they picked up your message. You can also use the service like an audio Twitter, where you leave voice clips on a website using an embedable widget.

With the carriers focusing on the size of their customer bases, and innovating very little over the last decade in the areas of messaging or voicemail, the door is open for entrepreneurial companies to develop exciting applications which make the mobile phone not only more useful, but more fun. It would not take a crystal ball to see some of the carriers snapping up these companies in the future when they find that consumers are beginning to expect more clever features on their mobile phones.


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