Foxly v1.4 submitted to Apple! Keep a watch for the update next week. Also lots of big things to come…

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Submitted v1.4 to Apple late last night. This is a huge update and includes the following things:

  • Login with Facebook
  • Auto-find friends from your phonebook
  • Real-time messaging (with push notification service)
  • View full size photos
  • Auto-groups for you and your co-workers and classmates!

Auto-groups is something we’re particularly excited about. Grouping you with your co-workers and classmates who are on Foxfly is just the first step, but there is a lot more planned to come. Our next update is going to come close on the heels of this one and will finally bring much anticipated SMS integration (through Twilio’s API) and more ways in which we recommend groups for you to join.

Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to capture your offline social groups and stay in touch with them through Foxfly, so our next version will have some additional features that will leverage our platform to do just that.

If you want a sneak peak of our upcoming ver before Apple releases it and to become a member of our testing community feel free to contact us at marketing@foxfly.com!

 

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Great post from RWW on group messaging – Group Messaging: Why Now?

If 2010 was the year of location-based services, then 2011 is certainly the year of group messaging. With a slew of new group messaging apps dominating this year’s SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, the big questions have been why now and why not Facebook or Twitter?

The answer, it seems, could be very simple. Group messaging apps do something that sites like Facebook and Twitter don’t – they take away the magic and the guesswork and provide a blunt instrument for communicating with small groups of people using both data and text messaging.

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Last week, I moderated a panel on group messaging and one of my first questions was, “Why now?” The only real answer I got, however, was that smartphone adoption had reached a level where group messaging had become feasible. And that makes sense – SMS technology isn’t able to function in the same way, whereas smartphones can mix data and SMS and act as hubs for group communication. Smartphones, by using data, also bypass absurdly overpriced text messaging fees. I don’t know about you, but I still refuse to pay an extra $20 a month for unlimited text messages.

The question, in my mind, then became “Why is it so popular now?” Of course, I like talking with my friends, but don’t I have a million tools to do this already? The two most obvious examples of this would be Facebook and Twitter. But both lack in some very specific ways, as do many other services of their kind, that opened up the space for this onslaught of group messaging apps.

How Facebook and Twitter Fail at Group Messaging

In the case of Twitter, we find a tool that is not truly built for conversation. At its core, it was built as a way to update the Web through SMS, so while mobile communication lies at its core, group communication does not. The @reply and the hashtag were user-created functions that tried to solve the issue of communicating with other users. But they only sort of work. If you try to have a Twitter conversation with multiple people, you quickly find that you’re running out of space for your message as you tack on new names to include in the conversation. There are still only 140 characters. Twitter is also inherently public and the only way to make communication private is to either send direct messages to other individual users or to close off your follower network entirely. On average, Twitter is best as a broadcast tool and secondly as a tool for one-on-one interaction, not as a group communication tool.

So, Twitter’s out. What about Facebook? Facebook is for communicating with your friends, right? There are a couple issues for Facebook in this realm, which the company is likely trying to address with the recent acquisition of leading group messaging app Beluga.

When it comes to Facebook, there are a few distinct ways to communicate with friends and groups. There is the status update, the message (which it recently combined with chat and SMS, to attempt to address this very issue) and then the group-specific update and message. In terms of the status update, there is something very key getting in the way – magic.

When you put up a status update, you have no idea who will see it on the other end. Ask “Anyone want to go out on the town tonight?” in a status update and you’re likely to get a response from that kid you knew in high school, your bored friend who lives in another state and your cousin. Facebook also introduced a “Groups” feature last fall to address this issue, but it’s more topically-focused and static than most group communication requires. As for messages, Facebook announced an entirely new and entirely confusing messaging system last fall that is supposed to seamlessly connect users across devices, whether laptop, tablet, smartphone or feature phone. Four months later, and still not all users have the new system.

Beyond that, Facebook still manages to confuse its users with the idea of whether or not their friends are online or offline. Never mind the fact the little “online” or “idle” icon seems to have little to no bearing on whether or not your friend is present, but it also seems to indicate that we need to change our method of communication based on what it says. Suddenly we need to consider whether or not the user on the other end is at a computer currently or not, when really it doesn’t matter.

Facebook is trying to fix this with its new system, but still it has different words and slightly different definitions for forms of on-site communication that only confuse the issue. Do I want to “chat” or “message” you? Yes. Chatting is messaging, just faster. But messaging can involve multiple people, while Facebook’s chat is only one-on-one. Confused yet?

Group Messaging: Interruptive, Mobile & Un-Magical

Enter group messaging apps like Beluga, GroupMe, Kik, Fast Society and slew of other apps hitting the market as we speak. Group messaging apps simply assume that you are engaging in a real-time and asynchronous communication.

Group messaging apps make it simple to communicate with the people you want to communicate with. There is no magic involved. There is no algorithm. You’re not throwing a message into a bottle to see who finds it on the other end – you’re sending out a message that will arrive as an interruptive SMS or push notification on the phone in all your friends’ pockets, wherever they may be. You’re quickly creating and reorganizing social circles, on the go, according to the situation. And that communication is as private (or public, as with GroupMe’s “joinable” groups) as you want it to be. And even your SMS-only, feature phone toting friends can play along.

Until now, we’ve dealt with large-scale social networks and the communication within has been largely public and imprecise. On the converse, it has been too precise, only properly functioning for one-on-one messaging or more static, topically focused grouping. Group messaging sneaks in beneath and finds a way quickly into our pockets and our daily lives.

Of course, this realm of new apps has taken off quicker with techies and early adopter types, but get ready for the oncoming mainstream explosion. Last year’s location-based apps took explanation and still haven’t gone mainstream. Sharing your location with the general public can be scary. Sharing your thoughts and ideas, your location and your pictures, with small groups of friends is the exact opposite. It’s natural, it’s friendly and it’s going to be huge.


Text messaging is a drag. Here’s how we think it should look like.

Chatting with your boyfriend/girlfriend? Jump into the conversation by opening Foxfly and tapping her/his photo to see your conversation history and send a message. Sharing photos with your mom/dad? Swipe your finger right to left to find a collage of mom and dad and press it to chat.

Dr. John Medina, in his recent book “Brain Rules for Presenters” writes:

We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%…Pictures beat text as well, in part because reading is so inefficient for us. Our brain sees words as lots of tiny pictures, and we have to identify certain features in the letters to be able to read them. That takes time. http://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=brainrulespzreview-1211213300619507-9&stripped_title=brain-rules-for-presenters

To iPhone, Android and other smartphone users this should be obvious. App icons are incredibly distinctive and easy to remember. Even with up to 20 different icons on each screen, its effortless to scroll through 3-4 screens and find the app you want to open. Now imagine if you had to scroll through a text list of your 80 apps to find your Instagram camera or Facebook app. (Windows users needn’t look far for an example of this, just click on your Windows icon and open the Start Menu).

Images

Pictures score even more points when we are talking about group conversations:

2 people –   Susan, me
3 people –   me, Casper, Brian
>3 people – John…Paul

This is how Gmail represents conversations between two, three, and more than three people. Not terribly informative.

Here’s how it will look on Foxfly, you get the gist…

 


Our hearts and prayers go out to those enduring the crisis in Japan. Here’s how you can help

http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/11/6246445-japans-earthquake-how-to-help

Several organizations are jumping in to help victims of the Japanese quake. Here’s how you can help:

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  • Using your cell phone, you can text-message donations of $10 to the Red Cross. Text the letters REDCROSS to 90999 to make the $10 donation, or visit the organization’s website.
  • The International Medical Corps is putting together relief teams, as well as supplies. The organization is in “contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities,” said Nancy Aossey, IMC president, on its website. You can donate here. Or, you can text MED to 80888 to donate $10 to emergency relief efforts.
  • Save the Children is accepting donations for its Children’s Emergency Fund. “We are extremely concerned for the welfare of children and their families who have been affected by the disaster. We stand ready to meet the needs of children who are always the most vulnerable in a disaster,’ said Eiichi Sadamatsu of the organization in a statement. You can also text “JAPAN” or “TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10.
  • GlobalGiving, based in Washington, D.C., is providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Text JAPAN to 50555 to donate $10.
  • The Salvation Army, which has had a presence in Japan since 1895, is sending an assessment team from Tokyo to the city of Sendai “to assess damage and will begin providing basic necessities (food, water, etc.) beginning as soon as possible tonight or tomorrow,” a spokesperson said. In Tokyo, the Salvation Army “opened its main building to help shelter commuters who were unable to reach home. They served hot drinks and packed meals.” You can text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to make a $10 donation to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts.
  • World Vision, with a staff of 75 in Japan, focuses its relief efforts on children. Visit the website to donate, or call 1-888-56-CHILD (1-888-562-4453). You can text “4JAPAN” or “4TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10.
  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a humanitarian assistance organization that also helped in Haiti and in countries affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami. Phone: (212) 687-6200.
  • Adventist Development and Relief Agency can be reached at (800) 424-2372, or text the word SUPPORT to 85944 to make a donation.
  • The mGive Foundation, which helps with mobile donations, said these groups are also accepting text-based donations: Convoy of Hope, text TSUNAMI to 50555 to donate $10; World Relief Corp. of National Association of Evangelicals, text WAVE to 50555 to donate $10. “When prompted, mobile donors should reply with YES to confirm a one-time gift,” the foundation says. “The $10 one-time donation will appear on the donor’s next mobile bill. All donations are tax deductible and receipts may be printed” from the mGive site. “Message and data rates may apply.”
  • Facebook has a Disaster Relief page with lots of good information about organizations that are offering aid, and that you can help, in turn.
  • Portland, Ore.-based Mercy Corps  is “accepting donations to help survivors of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami through our longstanding partner, Peace Winds Japan.” Donations will go to meeting the “immediate and longer-term needs of the survivors,” a spokesperson said. You can text “MERCY” to 25383 to donate $10.
  • Microsoft has a Disaster Response Effort underway. “We are taking a number of steps, including ensuring the safety of our employees and their families and proactively offering customers, partners and local response agencies technical support to help ensure business continuity,” the company said. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)


#Foxfly v1.3 now available on AppStore! Download here http://bit.ly/gDemDo BETA coming in April!

After a long wait, Apple has approved our Foxfly Alpha v1.3 to be released on the AppStore. With it comes a lot of stability and speed improvements and also our new logo. But it gets even foxier from here on out.

We are preparing a larger update that will come out in mid-April that will come out with a host of new and overdue features including:

– Auto-friend search
– View full-size photos
– Direct messaging
– Facebook Login

and a few more features that you’ll have to download and try to see for yourself! 🙂

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Hot out of the box – a sneak peak of our new logo! [No more carrot head!] Foxy ain’t it?

Best_new_foxfly_logo_303_512x512

Presenting Foxfly’s new logo. For now this still has its plastic wrap, but we will be rolling the logo out first on our latest update, which we just submitted to Apple for review today, and then on our web and mobile websites. (Mobile website due out at the end of this month).

Things are continuing to heat up here at Foxfly HQ as we push forward to a Beta release at the end of this month that will add Facebook and Twitter integration, and ability to find your friends and whole bunch of other must-have features!

We are working as hard as we can to respond to all your recommendations and suggestions and are thrilled that so many of you love Foxfly. Please keep it coming! Thanks for your patience and understanding!


Foxfly v1.3 now “Waiting for Review” by Apple! Stay tuned for the release!

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After a long all night coding and debugging session we finally uploaded v1.3 to Apple. According to Apple 90% of upgrades get approved in the first week so hopefully this will get out to you soon. We are totally excited about this update and hope that you will be too when it gets in your hands.

Beyond that the next version will be another two weeks. So make sure you stay tuned for announcements!