SXSW has been an important event in the Made by Many calendar over the past few years.
We take as many people as possible and we always have a great time - we learn, we swarm, we go to lots of parties and we live together for a week in some big houses in Travis Heights. We also get to spend some quality time with our clients, do some new biz and hang out with lots of people we'd only otherwise know through Twitter and Instagram.
For the past few years, we've tried to launch something new for SXSW: a homepage takeover and/or a new app. Last year we launched Hollergram for the iPad - an app designed specifically for SX that turns your iPad into a glowing sign, and that simultaneously tweets your wittiest bon mots into the stream. Gosh, how we all laughed!
This year we are beyond super-excited to announce the birth of Picle. Our most ambitious Made by Many product yet - an iPhone app that uses photos and sound to give users storytelling super-powers.
Here's a little preview...
Are you one of those people who look at your phone in frustration every now and then, with the knowledge that there must be thousands of fantastic apps you're not making use of because you don't know about them? Fear not - here's Made by Many's list of the apps we're using more often than the rest at the moment:
Death Rally: This is the app for you if speed’s your thing.
Toca-Boca Hair Salon: Tim was the one who first introduced us to this super fun app that allows you to change a character’s hairstyles as if you were a (slightly warped) barber. Definitely one that kids will enjoy too, even if that last bit sounds a bit counter-intuitive!
Toca Doctor: In Charlotte’s words, ‘anatomical educational fun’.
Here at Made by Many, most of us are always playing with apps on our phones. Here is a selection of the most recent ones:
Color is a new mobile location based photo app that lets you share photos with people around you. There's no need to follow friends because the social connections are based on distance. I like the concept - viewing real-time collections of photos from people experiencing one event like a party or gig. Color also lets you to shoot video, something I'd love from Instagram.
Following up on Cath’s recent post about what Conor calls ‘application obligation’, I thought it would be interesting to see what apps people in the office feel obliged to use, and why. More interesting than the apps themselves (Twitter as a service took centre stage, as I expected), was the reasoning behind why people altered their behaviour to fit these apps or services into their lives, instead of the other way around. I’m presenting them below so you can read them for yourselves (in most cases I’m simply putting their words into the third person so as not to take too much away from the content – they make really valid points):
We noticed an iPhone app called Fast Society being mentioned on Twitter the other day. It did look interesting but we weren't quite sure how people were reacting to it (we later found out it was launched back in September, and that it has recently been featured in the New York Times and Business Insider.) So I got in touch with Matthew Rosenberg, one of the co-founders, to ask him a few questions. I think it's interesting that they are so focussed about their target audience. Would that change if they become as big as Facebook, who went from Harvard-only to Ivy League-only to everyone in the world?
Matthew was extremely forthcoming - here's what he had to say:
So, ‘all this is well and good‘, I can hear you say, ‘but there isn’t much there that I didn’t know before’. Well, hopefully this will be interesting then:
For the health enthusiasts:
Cyclemeter ‘turns your iPhone into a powerful GPS stopwatch, giving you feedback and motivation to go farther, become faster, be healthier, and live longer’. Simon I’Anson at Made by Many is a keen user of this one.
Last week, we asked the people in our Twitter and Facebook networks for their top iPhone apps. The driving force behind this query was our observation that the majority of people we know own an iPhone, and yet a lot of people wind up asking their friends for recommendations of interesting or useful apps. Of course, the Top Apps section in the iTunes store is always there for reference, but the problem there is one of curation. At the end of the day, would you trust Apple or people you know who have similar interests to you, when you’re looking for cool apps? I don’t think it’s much of a contest really – the power of the network is much stronger than most of us realise: I’m sure more than one of us has seen our friends ask for recommendations from their network on Facebook, whether they are experienced users of social media (read Foursquare and Twitter addicts) or not.
I recently watched the utterly fantastic TED talk ‘The Happy Planet Index’ by Nic Marks. The talk covers a lot of sensible ground including why the environmental movement needs to shift their tactics as well as the quite stunning results from his research on measuring countries’ happiness in relation to life expectancy, contentment and ecological efficiency (hint: the results will surprise you).
It’s well worth 17 minutes of your time.
However it was his concluding comments about the key ingredients driving people’s happiness that really caught my attention. The principles, which Marks only had time to race through, came out of some research by the New Economics Foundation (nef) in 2008: