Do you tweet? Then maybe you should Boo! It’s like a multimedia Twitter, designed especially for iPhone users.
Over in the UK back in 2008, Channel 4 (Britain’s edgy TV channel) launched a unique funding program entitled 4IP. Cut to 2009 and, having just announced a dedicated iPhone 3.0 fund, the suits over at 4IP seem particularly keen on Apple’s device as a platform for pushing interactive wares. In fact, 4IP has announced a fund for developers, with almost $150,000 up for grabs at a maximum of approximately $40,000 per app.
Made possible by 4IP and developed by BestBefore, AudioBoo is among the first of Channel 4’s original iPhone commissions to hit the App Store. As developers ready their funding proposals, AudioBoo is set to be a showcase of the kind of app 4IP will be looking for — making use of various media formats, community-focused, and integrating with the most popular social platforms.
Designed to work alongside Twitter and iTunes, AudioBoo is an audio blogging platform created especially for iPhone.
Anatomy of a Boo
On paper, AudioBoo’s feature set reads excellently — it’s a tour de force of current buzzwords and trends. Using the iPhone you can record an audio message, the message pops up on your Twitter stream and there’s even an automatic, iTunes-compatible RSS feed for your followers to subscribe to.
The sign-up process is simple, taking place either on the iPhone (via a Safari link within the app) or on the desktop version of the web site. Plus, once signed in, it only takes a couple of clicks to link your Twitter account and activate Facebook Connect. The site even grabs your Gravatar, saving the hassle of uploading a profile picture.
It’s worth noting, however, that there’s not much to do on the desktop version of the site. AudioBoo really has been designed for iPhone; the app is where are all the key features are and, as such, there’s no way to record a Boo via the site.
Making the Perfect Boo
Once logged in on the iPhone, the app displays the main Boo stream, similar to Twitter’s public stream. Unlike Twitter, though, there’s no way of following other users; this seemed somewhat odd to me initially, until I realized that — with Twitter and Facebook Connect integration — it’s not needed: AudioBoo pushes messages to the big social platforms where all the action happens.
The focus throughout the app is on simplicity and ease of use. This is reflected in the audio-recording interface — there’s no friction with the technology and so creating a Boo is so quick it retains a real sense of fun throughout.
Although the App Store page states that recordings can be up to three minutes long, there’s actually a maximum length of five minutes. It’s the perfect amount of time to do a blog-style update, sing a little tune or make an impassioned rant.
Each Boo can be posted alongside a photo, either from your photo album or taken with the iPhoto camera. You can also add tags and, if you’re not the secretive type, even include GPS data. After that it takes a few seconds to publish a Boo — even over slower Edge connections — resulting in a page like this.
If you clicked the link to my test Boo, you’ll have heard that the audio quality from the iPhone mic itself is surprisingly good. And, because I’m a Twitter user, I’ve linked up AudioBoo to auto-tweet for me too. The site even generates code so that you can embed specific Boos on your blog or web page of choice.
There’s one feature, though, that seems to be a real stroke of genius on the part of BestBefore: Alongside an RSS feed, your Boo page also has an iTunes button — clicking this button automagically subscribes users to a podcast feed within iTunes of your Boo updates.
Despite having launched in the App Store, AudioBoo is still clearly in its infancy. The site design is incredibly dull, profile pages lack any sort of personalization options and the iPhone app can be a little crash-happy, too.
While there’s still a long way to go with the main site, the core technology works and, after configuring your account, you’ll find yourself primarily using the iPhone app and never having to visit the main AudioBoo site again — everything is automated for you.
The technology, and all the other added extras, more than make up for any complaints. It’s genuinely exciting to be armed with this fun little tool that enables you to record an audio message (with accompanying photo) and instantly publish to Twitter, Facebook and iTunes.
Simply put, AudioBoo is great fun and totally free. For Twitter users, Facebook members, potential podcasters, and regular folk who have something they’ve just got to voice, it’s well worth a download.