Ask any BlackBerry owner about their device, and there’s a good chance they’ll sing the praises of the keyboard, the push email, and the ability to rapidly exchange text messages and IMs. Plus, a fairly decent Facebook client for the gadget integrates seamlessly with the BlackBerry Inbox. In other words, it’s a perfect communications device — except for two things: It’s been lacking a high-quality Twitter client and a native Internet telephony app from one of the big boys such as Truphone or Skype. Well, soon BlackBerry owners will no longer bemoan the social media void. They’ll be able to experience on-the-go nirvana with SocialScope, one of the most elegant BlackBerry apps I have ever used.
Not only does SocialScope allow me to use Twitter services (including sharing photos, videos and links), it allows me to stay in touch with my Facebook contacts as well by bringing their status updates into a common social inbox. I also can keep track of what my friends are doing on Flickr. SocialScope will support other social-networking services, depending on their popularity. Its idea of aggregating all social media into a single application is similar to Motorola’s MotoBlur software interface for Android-based mobile phones.
“Our vision is to optimize social media for the smartphone, similar to what RIM did for email,” said Amit Kumar, who started Ubiquitous Systems, the company behind SocialScope. “We call SocialScope a mobile inbox for your social networks.” At our Mobilize 09 conference, many industry insiders said that social networking was the primary driver of mobile data usage on cell phones. With the exception of Facebook’s iPhone application, the social media experience on mobile phones is limited. SocialScope is combining some server-side processing with native mobile apps, such as its BlackBerry application, to give people a good experience.
So far, SocialScope has exceeded my expectations. Though still in beta, the application has a polished feel; it leverages the BlackBerry keyboard and track ball to maximum effect. The app is actually divided into virtual tabs, and you can use the trackball to scroll among them. The tabs include the entire inbox which has all messages, tweets directed at you (@om), private direct messages, Facebook updates, and a separate tab for Flickr.
The user interface is clean, simple and intuitive — or at least as good as you can get on the BlackBerry platform, which doesn’t boast many apps that meet my aesthetic sense. The only problem I’ve had with the app: Because it runs in the background and is constantly checking for updates, it drains your battery quite rapidly.
SocialScope is planning to launch the complete app on the BlackBerry sometime in the near future, but it also is working on clients for Palm, Android, iPhone, Symbian and Windows Mobile. Nevertheless, if you are a BlackBerry owner, it makes sense for you to download this app the instant it becomes available.