Nokia Friend View: I Think We’ve Got A Winner
Here I was grousing about not finding something to be passionate about and today, my fellow Nokians in Nokia Research Center have come up with a service called Nokia Friend View that combines social networking and location in a compelling way.
Nokia Friend View requires a client that runs on your S60 3rd Edition device. Status can be updated easily from the mobile phone. Your location can be updated automatically either with GPS, using cell phone tower location, or manually. If you’re not comfortable sharing your location, or you want to save some battery life, you can always turn this feature off as you desire.
The interface where all your friends show up on a map reminds me quite a bit of Twittervision, though unlike Twittervision, it doesn’t jump around the map. You can, however, see all of your friends on the map and scroll around to them as you see fit.
The other important thing is that you can comment on other people’s status updates. Comments are kept with the original status update so they are easy to find. Also, as people comment on a particular status, it is moved to the top of the most recent status updates list, making it easy to follow active conversations!
I had been comparing this application to Jaiku all day, which Google bought out a while ago. This seems to me like this is next logical step to what Jaiku could have become, though it seems that Google or the Jaiku guys aren’t really saying much about future plans, and certainly haven’t released a new client in quite some time!
One thing that I appreciate that the Nokia Friend View client does is allows you to add friends from the client itself. You get notified of friend requests in real time and can easily accept or reject them. It’d be nice if one could see more profile information before accepting, but it’s a step up from Jaiku!
If you are not blessed enough to have an S60 3rd Edition device, then you can also use the web interface, which offers much the same functionality as the mobile client. However, browser support for the website seems to be limited to Firefox 2.x., Internet Explorer 6.x, and Safari. Various attempts to use Firefox 3.x, Google Chrome, or nightlies of Webkit met with not having the maps load. If you try and use Internet Explorer 7, you get a message saying the browser is not supported.
The service is not perfect, of course, as the service is experimental and the client was launched through Nokia Beta Labs. The only major issue I ran into on the client was that it would crash when I received multiple friend invites and I accepted one of them. A minor issue is that it doesn’t remember the zoom level I chose between sessions.
Things I’d like the service to have include: a proper mobile-friendly version of the website and service, some kind of SMS support, and an open API that would allow integration with third party services (e.g. Twitter) or even third party clients. However, for a first release, I am very impressed!
If you have a Nokia Account (i.e. for Ovi services), you can use it with Nokia Friend View. Otherwise, signing up takes just a minute or two. Once you’ve done that, download it to your Nokia S60 device and give it a try. If you want to add me as a friend, I am phoneboy (and it is case sensitive when you add friends, as I’ve found out).
I hope that my colleagues at Nokia continue to support and develop this service, as it really shows a lot of promise!