Recently two Apps for the phone became available. I downloaded them the minute they became available. Heck, one of them I was even a beta tester for.
Today I deleted both of them.
I’ve always been a big Alton Brown fan and one thing that he can’t stand in his kitchen is what he calls a Unitasker. That’s a kitchen tool that does just one job. A perfect example would be a Rice Cooker. It does one thing (it cooks rice obviously) and takes up a bunch of space in the process. That’s kind of the thing. How valuable is it and how much room does it take? I guess I could make an allowance for a Unitasker the size of a teaspoon, but you get the idea. My kitchen counter does have one Unitasker that I absolutely love – it’s my water kettle. For a Unitasker to make it in my world it has to do what it’s supposed to do incredibly well. My water kettle boils water so quickly it’s incredible. I love that machine!
Getting back to these two Apps – there’s a finite space for Apps to sit on my phone’s home screen. Those 16 spots are reserved for the things I go to multiple times a day. We’re talking prime real estate, kitchen counter, location, location, location – right?
Which is not to say that if it doesn’t rank well enough to make the home screen it’s deleted. I have a gazillion apps on the other pages and folders. But when it comes to these two Apps they didn’t just sit there waiting to be used, they competed with other apps sending me the same alerts and notifications. So the resource that ultimately got them kicked to the curb was my notification bar.
The Facebook Groups App
When the Facebook Group App first hit the news it was purported to be EPIC! Life Changing! Incredible!
The headlines for the App listed incredible features like…
- One big overview of every group you belong to.
- A Group ‘Discovery’ feature.
- Icons to show new content.
- Push Notifications.
- Start a new Group instantly, and invite your friends!
The problem here is that while Groups are wonderful places to have conversations, they are flawed. I’m afraid that with this new app they are going to be flawederer! (heck yeah that should be a word, eh?) When anyone can add you to a group without your permission – that’s an issue. It’s been that way for a long time. Looking at my Groups I am a member of over a hundred. Most all of them I was never asked to join, nor did I request to join – I was added without my permission. Yes, I can freely leave any group with just a click – but why should I have to? It’s Group Spam, plain and simple.
As for the features, the big overview for me was pages and pages and pages long. With 100+ groups displayed in a 3 x4 grid I had to scroll scroll scroll to find the Groups I actively participate in and drag them to the top of Page 1. Once I had the App setup I looked at the main features.
The Overview – I rarely went past Page 1. I found myself rarely scrolling to Page 2 let alone Page 10!
The Icons to show new content – it’s already there in the standard Facebook App.
The Push Notifications, you can easily set that up on each of the Groups you like. New content will show up as a little red balloon in the top right.
As for the “Start a New Group Instantly” part – this is only going to make that Group Spam even worse.
The only redeeming factor for me in the App was the Group Search function. The desktop or standard Facebook App doesn’t search Groups well at all. That said, I belong to more groups than I can possibly pay attention to right now, the last thing I need is to add more. Hey Facebook, how about an App that removes you from all groups?
Once you get into the Group App it’s just about the same as the standard Facebook App.
So, the standard Facebook App does everything I need it to do. Additionally, if you add the Groups you want to your favorites they’ll be right at the top of your sidebar or menu all the time. New content will also show up right there too!
Technically speaking, Google’s INBOX isn’t really a Unitasker. Google launched it’s INBOX App and it was supposed to revolutionize email. Wasn’t that what Wave was supposed to do?
What INBOX does is try to better organize your email inbox.
It’s something I don’t need. Years ago when I switched from Outlook to sending all my email to Gmail I had to be organized. One of the first things I did was set up filters and folders. A few years later when Google launched Priority Inbox I was in heaven. For most any email that comes in it first hits a filter. That filter decides whether it should go to the top of my Priority Inbox, go to the regular inbox or skip both and be shuffled off to a folder for later.
I also use labels so I can easily identify common items in stream. My labels are for things like “Clients”, “Orders” and I even have one for emails from my wife.
The elusive ‘Inbox Zero’ takes me minutes to achieve most every day. Google attempt to do this for you as well using what they call “Bundles”.
One of the things that INBOX does that my Gmail system doesn’t do is identify important calendar items. In that Travel Bundle, Google INBOX would sort my airline tickets, rental car reservations and things like that.
I would almost LOVE this if I didn’t already have a Google Now screen on my phone. On that screen, Google looks at my calendar, email and other items and loads everything pertinent to me at that time. It’s pretty incredible. As an example, it knows I am in one location and my next appointment is across town – it looks at real time traffic and determines what time I need to leave by. It has all my travel reservations, new content on blogs I like to read, sport scores of teams I follow, package delivery updates, and so much more.
You might not know but in standard Gmail you can also schedule reminders, create events, and add items to tasks all around an email. If I skim an email in the morning and need to take action on it I’ll add it to my task list – it’s easy peasy.
The big problem with Google INBOX is that it took away my actual inbox. When I fire up the App all my folders are gone! There’s a way to navigate to the old inbox but why?
INBOX wants me to PIN emails, snooze emails and tell it to remind me to do something in the future. All great but what I really need are my folders. I don’t want to rely on the intelligence of their app to properly decide what bundle to toss a particular email into.
My filters, folders and rules are already setup. They are smart and do the job they were built for.
I see Google’s INBOX as a bandaid for people that haven’t taken the time to set up their Gmail properly to begin with.
Set yourself up with Priority Inbox, setup your filters and folders and you too will reach Inbox Zero in no time.
Tell me, am I being to harsh?