Archive for October, 2009
Posted October 30th 2009 under Uncategorized
We’re giving the final touches to the Blackberry version of j1ck.tweet, our Twitter client, and we will hopefully be able to release it very soon. Meanwhile, here is some preliminary info and screenshots to whet your appetite!
The J2ME version for general Java phones is already out there and being used quite extensively. The public version is Beta 1, and we’re finalizing some fixes to officially release 1.0 (very soon!). For the Blackberry, we could have used a simply adapted version: Blackberries support J2ME apps. But that would never let us create a great user experience on a Blackberry, so we decided to go the extra mile and implement a native BB version.
In the last couple of weeks we’ve finished integrating native Blackberry menus and a UI that respects platform conventions. We’ve also been able to make camera support work seamlessly. The main remaining point is getting RIM’s help to provide BIS-B connectivity: it’s quite surprising that app connectivity is so confusing on the Blackberry, and that you need to pay hefty fees and get RIM’s approval to provide a decent user experience connectivity-wise. Anyhow, we hope to jump over this last remaining hurdle shortly.
We support all Blackberry form factors: the older side-thumbwheel models like the 8700, the newer trackball ones, Pearl models with half-QWERTY keyboards, and the latest touch-screen Storm models. It’s proved to be quite some effort, but we’re really happy with the result. Seamless user-experience is our goal, and good input support is half of this. The other half is display, and we hope the captures below speak for themselves. We’ve had to require a minimum version 4.2 of the RIM Blackberry OS, which should be met by nearly all modern Blackberries out there (and you can upgrade at least some of the others!). 4.1 was giving us too much trouble with poor rendering support and it didn’t seem worthwhile fighting that battle.
There are already several good Blackberry Twitter clients out there, and we don’t really want to compete with them: our focus is different. We aim for a simple and clear user experience, and we hope to appeal to the segment of the market that values most the beauty of simplicity.
With regards to the remaining steps, if anyone can get us a good contact at RIM to help with the BIS-B approval process, we will be very grateful. And meanwhile, we’ll keep navigating the Canadian labyrinth, and hope to announce a public beta 1 soon!
Posted October 23rd 2009 under Uncategorized
We released the first public beta of j1ck.tweet, the twitter client built on our J1CK platform, last week (see here). Our intention was just to reach a few dozen users to test compatibility and the stability of the server. We decided to announce it only on the blog and still not add a product page to the main j1ck.com web site. After announcing the release on the blog and tweeting it, a few people started checking it out, and retweeting about it. All was smooth saling. But on Sunday night, we were surprised to find out that @taike_hk had already posted a review on his posterous blog:
A very positive review. Well, except the Japanese part, for which we don’t get all the subtleties! Of course, we were flattered.
After this, NokiaMobileTalk.com picked the news and also published a very positive review:
From here on, things started going a bit crazy very quickly. The viral nature of Twitter in action is certainly impressive. Hundreds of people started downloading it, tweeting and retweeting about it, sending in suggestions, reviewing it on their blogs and sites, etc… it seems our design approach of keeping things clear, simple and readable has resonated with many people. Here are some of the reviews and reactions out there:
[KuApp, English] http://kuapp.com/2009/10/21/j1ck-tweet-free-java-twitter-application-support-5800.html
[FAQ4Mobiles, German] http://www.faq4mobiles.de/forum/neuvorstellungen-und-updates/63840-j1ck-tweet-ein-toller-twitter-client-fuer-java-handys.html
[ShiftDelete.net, Turkish] http://shiftdelete.net/cepten-twitter-kullandiran-uygulama-15363.html
[MobileBlog.it, Italian] http://www.mobileblog.it/post/9759/j1ckun-nuovo-ed-ottimo-client-twitter-per-tutti-i-cellulari-java
[MobileFone.in, English - India] http://mobilefone.in/mobile-software/j1ck-twitter-client-for-java-enabled-devices/
[HiAPK, Chinese] http://www.hiapk.com/bbs/thread-36577-1-1.html
[MyNokiaMobileBlog, English] http://mynokiamobile.org/2009/10/20/j1cktweet-free-tweete-application-for-nokia/
[Gogo409, Japanese] http://gogo409.blogspot.com/2009/10/1twitterj1ck-tweet.html
[Symbian SmashPop, English] http://symbian.smashpop.net/j1cktweet-a-twitter-app-for-all-phones
[BlogDoDan, Brazilian Portuguese] http://www.danielvieirads.com/2009/10/j1cktweet.html
Not bad for zero press releases or marketing effort. But what we like even more is the kinds of things some enthusiastic people are tweeting about j1ck.tweet:
We’re very happy that so many people are already using and enjoying j1ck.tweet, and we’re happy that we’ve only found minor issues in the beta process. Both compatibility and stability are already quite good. We’re now tying a few loose ends, and we’ll be able to officially launch 1.0 very soon, probably in a matter of days. The official launch will include proper product and support pages, sending in notices to popular mobile app bloggers, etc… But right now, we’re fixing a few things and implementing the last functionality for 1.0:
- Proper rotation support for phones that support that
- Fixing some problems with text input in the login screen
- Fixing display of non-Latin text in some cases (Twitter options when configured in Japanese, retweeting tweets in far east writing systems…)
- And better problem reporting.
For this last point, we’ve been in the unlikely situation of trying to stumble into a fail-whale, to check that the code to display it in all its glory worked fine. Javier, the dev responsible for this part, joked that he was hunting whales! Putting the whale into a tiny phone was definitely a big effort: we’ve measured the twitter whale to weigh exactly 87 tons, 3 more than the largest blue whale ever. But in less time than it took to find Moby Dick, we were able to get this:
A proper Twitter client wouldn’t be complete without it!
Posted October 14th 2009 under twitter
So, finally, with the help of Hoops and Yoyo (on the left), the first public beta of our Java Twitter client is ready. The simplest way to install is to open your Java-enabled phone’s web (or WAP) browser and type the following URL:
You’ll get to a simple page where you can choose the appropriate version for your phone, click on the relevant link, and the app will be downloaded and installed on your phone. After this, we hope using the app is rather self-explanatory.
The font size of that page is too small on some phones (esp. Nokia), but there is not much we can do until we customize it for each phone. Rest assured, fonts in the app are big and readable! That is actually one of the main design goals of j1ck.tweet and our whole system.
I hate feature lists. I think app design should be about the user experience. But of course not everybody thinks alike, and knowing whether some required functionality is supported is often useful. So here it goes, summary of j1ck.tweet features:
- All standard functionality: timeline, @mentions, DMs, favorites, following/followers, follow/unfollow, profiles… and of course tweeting!
- Simple, no-nonsense interface. Up/Down/Click and using a menu is all you need to know.
- Quick Reply / Retweet / Favorite in each tweet
- Trending Topics / Saved searches support
- Multiple-account support.
- Twitpic support: you’ll see the picture without having to navigate over there
- Camera support! Take a snapshot from the tweeting form itself and have it automatically uploaded to Twitpic. Great to share where you are in a moment.
- Pretty good support for touch-screen phones (we’re testing mainly on Nokia 5800 and Samsung F480)
- Support for QWERTY keyboard phones (Nokia E71 is currently our main testing device for this)
Here is an (incomplete) list of phones where we’ve tested this to work fine:
Nokia N70, Nokia N73, Nokia N80, Nokia N81, Nokia N95, Nokia E50, Nokia 6230, Nokia 6288, Nokia 6500, Nokia 5610 XpressMusic, Nokia 5220 XpressMusic, Nokia 2630, Nokia 3109c, Nokia 3120 Classic, Nokia 5800, Sony-Ericssson W880i, Sony-Ericssson K610i, Sony-Ericssson Z610i, Sony-Ericssson K800i, Samsung SGH-U700, Samsung SGH-J800, Samsung SGH-i560, Samsung SGH-L760, Samsung SGH-F480 (touch-screen), LG KU-380, LG KU-800, Motorola RAZR V3, Motorola VE 538
Temporarily, it won’t work on the Nokia 6020/6021, which are quite old and where app size is limited to 128kb (!). We plan to reduce the size back to let it work again on this phones, but we haven’t had the time to do so yet.
All feedback will be very welcome (that’s the goal!). Just write to firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to use this public beta to start testing the scalability of our server (which, for obvious reasons, hasn’t yet been tested “on the wild”), and compatibility with as many phones as possible. But still, we’ve already been using this ourselves for weeks, and we are already enjoying it a lot, and I hope you will too!
Posted October 2nd 2009 under twitter
Not everyone has a high-end smartphone. Many people do in the US, Europe, or other rich areas, but most people use more basic phones. Even in rich countries, people who are not that much into technology use more basic phones.
These are all people that will enjoy Twitter or other online apps, if only we can make it easy for them. And this is the reason why J1CK has been designed to reach all audiences: our software works well in any feature phone provided it has the basic Java support.
Don’t get me wrong, we also love to make the best of the most advanced features, such as touch screens or full QWERTY keyboards (see my previous post http://j1ck.com/blog/2009/09/17/j1ck-twitter-client-for-java-phones/, featuring the Nokia E71 and 5800, and the Samsung F480). We’re also going to release Blackberry and iPhone versions of our software (at the very least). But we believe that given the current mobile landscape, it’s critical for many goals to reach 90%+ of users, and this requires great support of a wide gamut of devices.
Apart from this, and for some reason I’ve never really been able to understand, I *love* software working on tiny devices. Seeing old computers gives me a kick, and I felt a surge of dopamine the day I saw our software work on a tiny 128×128 pixels screen on a Nokia 6020. I was trying our Wikipedia browser, and it just felt weird and great. It’s something like bloggin with ink on a papyrus. It feels dissonant, but just great!
Here are a few captures of j1ck.tweet, our Twitter client, running on a tiny Nokia 6085, with a tiny 128 x 160 pixels screen. The nice part is that it works great, you can even take pictures when tweeting and have then uploaded to Twitpic, and it overall makes for a great Tweeting platform!
And, apart from the basic functionality above, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy all the functionality of an advanced Twitter client:
- Twitpic preview
- Multiple account support
- Quick links to DM/Reply/Retweet/Favorites
- Saved searches, Trending topics, and more!
And finally, as another example of a basic phone, here are a few captures of the LG KU 380.
The fonts LG installed on this phone are quite ugly. But, hey, Twitter works perfectly here! And keep this in mind, these are some of the most basic phones out there.
Next week, I think I’ll post some screenshots from the Blackberry version.
And we should be able to actually release the first public beta soon!