Friday, November 14, 2014

Google's New Inbox App For Email - Part Two

*This is actually the second and final part of a two-part post which began with: "Gmail & Inbox: Comparing The Two Email Apps - Part One: Gmail". So if you wish to read the whole article, please start from there.

I noted in the first posting that Inbox was essentially a new app from Google which takes a different view of how email can be made more useful and the least overwhelming. Inbox is not simply another email app which does what Gmail or the multitude of email apps out there do with a bit of a difference. Inbox requires a different "head-space" and a totally different view of how to handle email and what the ultimate purpose of email is and what it should be. 

The best way to describe the difference, at least in my opinion, is that Gmail app is a linear process of thought. One email after another, perhaps divided into labels and categories. Inbox is what I what I would call OOT = "Object Oriented Thought". It turns your email into objects which can be acted upon in specific manners and in a way and time you chose.

Looking at email in such a new way, can only be accomplished by a company which has experience with hundreds of millions of users and their suggestions/complaints about improving the original Gmail product. I can only speculate as to why Google decided on two distinct apps, rather than combing them into one app, and allowing the user to chose their own interface. My assumption here is that the philosophies of the two systems are so different in the way the consumer views their own email, that two distinct apps are required, allowing the end-user to chose which best suits their purpose.

As I mentioned in the first part, I ran both Gmail and Inbox side by side for 10 days now. And to repeat since there is an actual "Inbox" in the Google App Inbox, when I refer to the actual [Inbox], it will be with those brackets around the word. This is to avoid any mistakes or confusion.

Let us begin by saying the foundations of Inbox seem to be in the evolution of Gmail. A while back, Google attempted to make email more manageable by introducing the Priority Inbox, along with the Social, Forum etc. categories. This was in addition to any label system one might have created to keep emails in their proper place. Labels and filters are tremendously useful, provided one actually set them up and use the label system. However, Priority Inbox Email, was not only confusing to most people, it was really not used. I mean, [Inbox] email is [inbox] email, right? So Priority email for many, just became a synonym for their [Inbox]. All mail kept on being dumped there. Other email which Google could figure out through its algorithms, ended up in the Social or Forums or the few other categories within Gmail. Then one had to go from one to the other, using the menu, opening the screen and wading through the email in each category.

If you are a celebrity, or a business person receiving literally thousands of emails a day and require a staff of assistants to wade through the stuff, then Inbox is definitely for you. Yet since most of us are not wading through thousands of emails a day, but rather hundreds, then the question arises if we should even think about approaching email in a different manner. I think if you are dealing with anything over 40-50 emails a day, you owe it to yourself to give Inbox a try and attempt to see email sent to you in a whole new fashion and order. You may be surprised at how swiftly you can actually pinpoint emails that require immediate attention and those that can wait a bit, and those that need to be scheduled. Actually also those which can be dumped and trashed.

Though all the above can be done with any email system, it is the "head-space" of Inbox which is fairly new. And it is that specific area of the Inbox which I intend to explore in this article and how Inbox implements it, to make your Email life easier to control.

Inbox

The first essential thing to understand is that Inbox will attempt to categorize your emails for you when they hit your email box. Categorization is critical here, as Inbox assumes you will want to sift through emails based upon the original category assigned to it. Without getting too complicated here with charts and methodology of thought, let us go straight to an example.
When you go into inbox you will find most, but not all of your email placed into various categories or if you wish Generic Labels which Inbox has set up beforehand. The image above reveals some of the changes brought to Inbox.
  • If email is categorized you will see the Category and the number of emails within that category that are awaiting your attention. In the image above you can see that my updates folder has 1 new item but 14 others (light print) which I have not yet attended to. The Social category contains 12 emails which require my attention.
  • You can also see that Inbox cleverly combines emails that require attention on a daily basis. Gmail did not know how to categorize or Label an email from the New York Film Academy, yet it is important to me. So it is listed as a unique entity, not part of some Social, Update, Travel etc. category. Kind of stands out actually, and I personally know that in this specific case it is one email I do want to answer. (It is also the email I will use to show how Inbox works).
Before going further we must also talk about what inbox calls "Bundling". Without bundling a lot of Inbox features would be just copying those of Gmail. With Bundling though the whole process and method of dealing with email becomes a bit different.



As can be seen from the above screenshot, Inbox comes with bundling enabled for most of the categories. But what is bundling?
  • When you bundle messages all messages that are associated with that specific topic are as you can tell "bundled" together. Therefore in your list of messages appearing in your [Inbox], you will not see an entry for each email but rather a single entry for the bundled category, such as what we saw in the first screenshot. All "Social" category messages are bundled together. All Updates are together etc. & etc. 
  • You can turn off bundling of any category you wish at any time. 
  • Your labels are not bundles. Do not confuse the two. Labels are your own internal way of organizing the emails you wish to keep. Bundles are de-facto organization of incoming emails. Think of Bundles as having Google apply its already vast information base to the address of your incoming email, and then say if the email is from "Facebook" it knows to put it in the Social Bundle.
  • The effect of bundling, which takes time to get totally right, is that you will know at any moment what demands immediate attention, what can wait a bit and what can be deferred for a day or so. For instance you may want to see anything that came into Updates immediately. Or if you just purchased a ticket on line you may want to see what came in to Travel immediately. Bundling appears together in the main [Inbox] and tapping on the category will then show you each individual email within that category. Then you deal with them on a one by one basis or chose to batch move, label or delete them. Before you begin to think that this is the point where Inbox becomes Gmail, when dealing with singular emails, think again. There are some very important additions which will be described below.
  • The one downside of bundling, which you may experience once in a while, is that sometimes normal immediate reflex to send something to trash. If you check off Social in your [Inbox] when all emails marked as social are bundled, and then tap to "trash", ALL the emails in Social awaiting your viewing will be deleted.So be very careful with using any of the options on a bundled category. 



As you can see from the above screenshot Inbox has quite a few bundles which you can either use or turn off. The one pet peeve I have is the Low Priority one. Whereas you can bundle this category, email which for whatever reason, the engine of Gmail decides is not important and does not belong in any of the bundles, goes there. (The All Mail category of Gmail). So Low Priority sometimes contains really important email. This is actually the place where, if you wish Inbox to really work for you, then for the first few weeks you will have to tell Inbox how to sort the email coming into you Low Priority bundle. 

It should be obvious as well that Inbox does not get it all right all the time. You are going to have to teach Inbox along the way about specific email addresses and where you want them to fall, and into which bundle. But overall, for those of you familiar with it, bundling is the next step after Gmail introduced Categories such as Social etc. into its normal engine. And if it were just bundling that was different than Inbox would just be an interesting footnote. Luckily, the Inbox App contains a great deal more.


The Pin, The Clock & The Check-mark



What makes Inbox unique, is not only its bundling possibilities. Bundling is actually incredibly useful when you are dealing with over 50-100 emails a day. It is kind of a first sifting which Google does for  you before you even look at the email. But the application developers did not stop there as logically Email usually requires a response or action on your part. This is where Inbox truly shines and indeed even if you only get 5 important emails a day, the added functionality of Inbox will benefit you as well. This functionality comes in the form of 3 interesting icons (I boxed them in red in the above screenshot), and two swipe gestures. So let us dig into each of them.

In order to understand these new icons you should begin to think of email not only as a purveyor of a message but as one of the many reasons you make changes to your calendar. After all, an email can be an invitation to an event. Or a reminder of an upcoming conference. Or something that does not need your immediate attention today but will certainly need it 5 days from now. 

So let us say the email from the NY Film Academy is important to me. BUT I really do not want to deal with it until a later time today, or @ some future date or when I arrive at my weekend home. So I tap on the clock, and get a snooze screen. My choices are date & time or location. This will put the specific email into "snooze" mode until that moment in time when I have determined I want to be reminded that I need to deal with it. 

This is an incredibly useful especially since I really need to answer them, but I also want to wait until Sunday to do so, as in this instance I want to give myself time to formulate the correct answer. Since I also sometimes forget things, and by nature procrastinate, this is a perfect tool for me. By the way you can also immediatly snooze an email without even opening it up by swiping to your left. (Swiping right will archive the email.) Once you snooze an email it goes into the snoozed category so  you can also view the emails you snoozed any time you wish or need to, and of course change their parameters,(see image below).

Okay now I have essentially turned my email via Inbox into a calendar system. Now I want to make my email work for me in an entirely different manner by not allowing me to forget information.

As I said, I snoozed my email to the NY Film Academy because I wanted to take some time to formulate my answer. There are certain factors which must go into my answer, and I need to remember to get them all in. So I not only snooze my email, but I click the Pin button. Here a menu pops up which is basically a reminder area where I can type notes to myself as reminders as to what I want to put into my response. Pay attention to the blue hand with the string tied to the finger in the screenshot below, where I typed in my reminder: 
Now when I go back to the display of emails I will immediately see which is snoozed and/or  pinned. So if something is pinned the list will display both a pin and a hand with the email. It is also snoozed then it will be in the snooze category.

In effect Inbox had turned email into a fairly efficient calendar and very specific and directed To-Do List per email. Couple this with Bundling and you really do have a totally new system.

The check on top, the last strange icon marks something as done. This can be done from the individual email or from the main menu.Want to see everything "pinned" from the main menu? Just click the blue pin and only those pinned emails will show up. These may be with reminders or not, but they will remind you that for whatever reason you used the pin to mark them as important.

Now we tap that pin and voila my NY Film Academy Email shows up with the icons telling me I made a notation to it to remind me of the time scheduling problem:

We have now covered some of the more major aspects of Inbox.
  • Bundling
  • Flexibility in what category is bundled and what is not
  • Time Scheduling per email based on time or location. 
  • A personal calendar for each email
  • Reminders per email - a virtual specific To-Do List for any email within the same system!
  • Swiping to make archiving and scheduling easy.
Finally where the Gmail app has a pencil, the Inbox app has a plus sign, clearly visible in almost all screenshots above. When you tap on the round plus sign, you are greeted with a Material Design Menu. The first three in this menu are actually the last emails I sent. Inbox assumes you want to compose again to the same people. Then of course there is the reminder. Then if you have any invitations left you can invite others to inbox. And finally the compose button to bring you to a new email screen for you to compose your next email. Either way this shows incredible flexibility and planning out in the app.





There are still a few other things we should mention about Inbox.
  1. It does not do anything to your Gmail App. If you delete/trash an email in Inbox it will show the same status in Gmail and obviously in reverse.
  2. You can run both apps at the same time. If you wish to turn off notification in the Gmail App you can do so in the app settings for each account in Inbox, or you can do so in the Gmail app under your account. Inbox simply does it for you so you do not have to exit the app, then go to Gmail then look up the account and turn off notifications. The choice is up to you and you can turn them back on again, But be aware. Having notifications for Gmail and Inbox turned on will cause your phone to push notify you twice for each incoming message. One from Gmail and one from Inbox.
  3. The Low Priority bundle needs to be carefully monitored at the beginning. If it is ignored you will find yourself possibly missing important emails.
Is Inbox for you? Again I must repeat. It depends on your "head-space". It depends what you want out of email, and how important it is to your personal or business life. It also depends if you are willing to leave the linear thought process of email behind and think more in terms of an OOP structure. It is OOT = Object Oriented Thought expressed within an email app. If you can get used to it, especially if you find yourself drowning in emails, then Inbox is worth a shot. It is a five-star app, which is well thought out. It still needs to mature and still requires such possibilities that we all have been spoiled by, such as default signatures and the like, but I have no doubt the developers will be putting that in.

I love Gmail. I really took to Inbox. I like the object oriented thought. I also think email must slowly evolve into a tool not only to relay a message, but to give us the ability to take notes, decide priority, and set up our schedule all from one app. If all this means something to you, get an invite from a friend or Google itself and start using Inbox.You will not regret it.



*Ted Gross is an award winning Blogger and Author, and has spent over thirty years in Technology as a CTO. The Bazoodies blog is devoted to reviews and the social impact of many of the new technologies and apps emerging today. Comments are always welcome.



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gmail & Inbox: Comparing The Two Email Apps - Part One: Gmail


Gmail
Over the past few weeks, in what  I assume is partnered with the release of Android Lollipop, the new OS which Google is releasing for Android Smartphones & Tablets, Google has also released a major upgrade to its Gmail app and introduced an entirely new email app called "Inbox". (I know the above was a run-on sentence!) There has been a great deal of confusion by many as to the need for Inbox and exactly which app one should use for everyday email requirements. So I have over the past week run both of them side by side (including notifications) in order to give readers a first-hand report on the experience.

There are some caveats that must be mentioned before I begin to explain and show the differences. Let me warn readers that this will be a fairly long article which I have divided into two parts. I am sorry that it is not one of those "do this in ten step things", but I want to be as comprehensive as possible here, especially because Email is one of the most important systems that anyone uses, be it on a PC, Mac, Tablet or SmartPhone. If you are only interested in reading about Inbox, then that article will follow on the heels of this one. However,I strongly urge the reading of both, as I hope you will learn a few things about Gmail that you have not yet explored as well.

Inbox
Gmail itself, has the added value of having been around for quite a few years and therefore many of the visual and work-flow aspects of the product, either on a PC, Tablet, or Smartphone have been addressed seriously. Inbox, the newest Email product from Google was released on a selective basis around a month ago. It does have a way to go in maturity, and though it is also an email client, you will require an entirely different perspective, or as it is often said, a "new head-space" to truly appreciate the product. Either way, it will obviously be your choice in which product you eventually use.

When Gmail was first introduced a few years ago, for quite some time the way to get an account was to get an invite from a friend who already had an account. In this manner I assume Google was able to scale-up its servers as more and more accounts were added and before they opened up Gmail to anyone via a web page which allowed one to create an email address immediately. It seems Google likes this way of introducing such products, (especially true for the app age), and once again to get the Inbox app, one either has to send an email request to Google (Go to the Google Play Store and search for "Google Inbox" then read the description page where you will find instructions on how to send the email and you should get back an immediate reply) - or ask someone who already has Inbox to send them an invite. Anyone can download the app, but you simply will not be able to use it for anything, until Google sends you an official invite via email based upon your request or someone sends you an invite. From what I know each new user to Inbox has a maximum of 2 invites they can send out to friends, so the actual "viral" scaling of the Inbox app is being throttled on purpose. Again I assume this is to allow Google the required time to scale up.

Additionally, these are Google Gmail products. If you use Gmail almost exclusively, especially with many accounts for different purposes within Gmail (as I do), then either of these products will work for you. Each has a different perspective on the way it deals with Email though, and forces the user to approach email in a different manner. So if you are a "traditional email person", without many emails a day, and happy with the Spam filter that Google offers in normal Gmail, then in all probability Gmail is still the best product for you.

There are many email apps out there, and I am not reviewing the pros and cons of any of them against these two products. I am simply comparing these two email products from Google, which will allow a more informed and knowledgeable decision.
  • All screenshots below were taken on my Android Nexus 5 with KitKat 4.4.4 installed.As of this writing Google has yet to release an OTA update for Android Lollipop on the Nexus 5.
  • Both apps will reflect their latest updates and thus Gmail will reflect many elements of the new "Material Design Format" released by Google for Android Lollipop development. (Google is updating all its native apps slowly but surely to Material design concepts.) If you have no idea what Material Design is and do not care, then just forget this point. It is really not essential though important to point out as we are doing a comparison.
  • Please always keep in mind, that while Inbox is the name of the new Google App, there is also an inbox in all email accounts. I will try and make sure the distinction is clear in the article. When I use the word Inbox it refers to the App. When I want to discuss the actual "Inbox" I will make use brackets. So an actual [Inbox] will be typed as [Inbox]. This is only done to avoid confusion.
  • Remember: I am talking about Android phones here and not Apple.


HomeScreen, Icons & Notification Screen


Before getting into the details of each app, it would be good to start from the beginning. Once they are installed each app works off your Google email accounts. I have multiple accounts registered on my smartphone, each used for a different purpose. (If you do not know how to set up multiple Gmail accounts on your Smartphone, search for articles on step-by-step instructions. There are quite a few of them.) Each app will read the accounts registered on your Smartphone automatically. There is no need to internally set up these accounts in each app (though you can certainly define the way each account will behave and send notifications.)

In order to better explain I took two HomeScreen images. The one on the left represents the status bar from one email account. On the status bar on top, I placed a yellow box around the notification icons. The left represents the fact that I have a notification from one email account. The icon with the M in it, is the Gmail icon. The icon with the check on an envelope is the Inbox icon. Don't worry though. If you keep both apps, you can tell Inbox to stop notifying you from the normal Gmail app, or you can do that within Settings for the specific Gmail account inside the Gmail app. I left notifications on for both apps for the sake of this article and testing, (more on that later).

The image on the right is the same thing except you will notice on top that there are multiple notifications from different email accounts. Three from Inbox and two from Gmail. The difference in numbers was my fault as after going into the Gmail app and checking, I immediately took a screenshot without waiting for the notification bar to catch up.

I also boxed in red, the two different app icons on my dock bar. (The notification number on top of Gmail comes from my launcher and not from Gmail, so don't expect that to appear.)

Next comes the Notification Screen. This is the screen where in KitKat you roll down the status bar over your top screen and you can view all your notifications. If you have multiple accounts here is where the fun actually begins, but some of it will only be explained fully when we get into the entire layout for the apps. The area boxed in Yellow are the notifications received from both Gmail & Inbox. The red circles on the right represent an Inbox notification. The green circles represent a Gmail notification. (I drew those circles myself in a graphics program just to be clear about this!)

The notifications come from three different email accounts. Gmail notifications are normal. You see the name of the sender and subject. If you have more than one email in the notifications you will see the number of emails waiting and if you expand the notification name of sender and subject. However Inbox notifications already work a bit differently. Indeed they give you a hint of how Inbox changes your email.

As you will also see later, Inbox works on the old Label theme, and certainly imports labels from your Gmail account. Indeed it imports all your email and labels and categories etc.However,when new email arrives, based upon Google's algorithms, Inbox decides for you whether it belongs in one of a few major categories within Inbox or of course, if you have already created filters into your own labels. As you can see above whereas Gmail is telling me I have an email from Goodreads, Inbox is telling me that in my Social Label I have an email from Goodreads. So the Inbox notification does not simply read Goodreads as the Gmail notification does, but it reads Social:Goodreads.

If there is no label whatsoever, then you will find the notifications on the same email will read almost the same. Look at the last two notifications, one from Gmail and one from Inbox, basically telling me the same information. 

Basically what I have just shown you is a bit of how Inbox expanded labeling and has taken that labeling and given it yet another level which is called "Bundling" which we will cover later in the article.

Gmail


Gmail has been around a long time.Obviously if you use it for either one or many accounts, you know how to deal with it. The latest rendition of the Gmail app contains some interesting additions along with more of Google's new Material Design.

One taps the Gmail icon, and is immediately presented with the Gmail's [Inbox]. See image on right. The new Gmail actually keeps count of Emails from the same account with the same subject. The interesting addition is the little round pencil on the bottom. This is part of Material design concepts. Tap it and you are immediately placed in email composing mode. Then all the normal Gmail compose features are there for your email. Tap the "To" and you can either type in a new email address or pick from your contacts as you type the name. Adding CC or BCC is from little arrow at the end of the "To" line. Multiple Accounts and not in the right one? Click the arrow at the end of the "From" line and choose the account you wish to send the email from.(There is another way to change accounts which we will describe in a minute.) Compose the email and hit the arrow on top. Email is sent. Simple. Quick. No Hassle.

When opening an email in Gmail all you do is tap on the email itself and the email opens with the ability to read and immediately answer. The email is there and tap on the arrow to answer.On top there are 3 icons. The first is to archive the conversation. The second which is incredibly efficient and certainly my favorite, is the trash button. You opened the email and want to trash it? One tap. (Two if you asked to always confirm delete in settings). The third icon - the closed envelope returns you straight to the Inbox. The colon as in the case with Android apps brings up ever more options all of which are incredibly useful in keeping your Gmail account in some semblance of order.Among these options are Move, and Change Labels. So if I wanted to save an email from Amazon under my label Amazon this is where I would do it. I simply Tap the "Move To" and a list of labels comes up and then I tap the label I want to banish the specific email to. Image for this is below in which I combined two screens as one. It really is a comprehensive system. Easy to use, easy to take in the options, easy to categorize emails, and certainly if you are just a bit careful about order you will be able to keep your emails in some normal state and find them easily, even without search. 


There are though two final points we should cover in the Gmail app. One is incredibly convenient the other a real nuisance. Let us take my everyday experience where at least 50 emails a day hit my inbox in one of my accounts. Half these emails I do not even want to read. I keep them because sometimes I am interested enough to peruse them. Viewing the image on the left, all you have to do is tap the circle with the initials or the icon of the sender and it turns to a grey check. The number checked is clearly set on the top as you can see the number 5 there. Now in one batch I can archive, delete, mark them as open, or label and/or move them. This is incredibly convenient and saves time especially when you have to deal with many emails in a few accounts.

There is though one final point which must be mentioned in regard to the Gmail app. I make a point of this as it has been carried over to the Inbox app, and indeed, though called something different it still needs work by the Gmail and Inbox team.

No matter how well you train your system in terms of filters (set up on the web), labels and making sure you delete what you do not want, and spam is spam, there is a folder marked as "All Mail" in the Gmail app. What I have discovered to my great chagrin that this folder must be checked a few times a day. Gmail will send any email here, which it does not consider spam, but will refuse for some reason to place directly in your [Inbox]. Therefore if you do not either filter these emails through an automatic filter, or mark them to Gmail in some way so that Gmail will know exactly what to do with them when they arrive, they are dumped in the All Mail folder and no notification of their arrival will be given you. The only way to know you have new email that has relegated to that folder is to look at the folder itself. Without checking this folder and without being careful to make sure the email that landed iin it, is in the future filtered, you can miss some important emails. I belong to an awesome forum for the Film & Screen Industry called Stage32. Gmail does not seem to like their emails and they always end up in the All Mail box, where I have to sift through them, and I am never notified on their arrival. But to be fair. When I asked for an invite to Inbox, and did not get one in a few days,I looked in the All Mail folder, and lo and behold there it was sitting. This annoying nuisance has been carried over into the Inbox App as will be explained later. It is one of those things which demands the account owner to intervene on a regular basis to filter emails for future arrival. But it is a nuisance, and the lack of notifications and a bit of forgetfulness for a week, will suddenly find you searching through a few hundred emails which somehow were lost into this All Mail folder.


Setting your specific account information and actions along with general Gmail settings is also easy.First of all by tapping the three lines in the upper left hand corner all your email accounts will appear, where a simple tap one will lead you to that email account. So you can switch between email accounts with ease, and send off or read emails fairly swiftly. It is a system dedicated to perusing email, getting to the ones you want in any account you have registered, and then accomplishing what you may in that account.


Additionally there are setting for each account and general settings. By paying attention to these settings you can get Gmail to do exactly what you want it to do in most cases. Gmail, unlike Inbox, does have default signatures for each account, though I assume default signatures will be added sooner or later into Inbox as well. Though many people accept the defaults on these settings, it is a good idea to go through the General Settings, and then each account settings. In this way you will be able to stay on top on the numerous emails you get each day, and for the most part chose when and how you will get notifications.

Gmail is an awesome app even with its quirks. If you are a Gmail nut as I am and have to run numerous accounts, I really cannot see any alternative which even comes close. There is an incredible amount squeezed into this app, and now with Material Design concepts it truly has taken on a beauty and efficiency not yet achieved in other email apps. This is all true, with the specific notation that unless you are willing to change your thought process a bit and try Inbox where the whole concept of email gets a bit of a nudge, and as awesome as Gmail may be, the new Inbox App may just become your new love.
The second part of this article can be found here:

Google's New Inbox App For Email - Part Two


*Ted Gross is an award winning Blogger and Author, and has spent over thirty years in Technology as a CTO. The Bazoodies blog is devoted to reviews and the social impact of many of the new technologies and apps emerging today. Comments are always welcome.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Genius of Tinder

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a close female friend go through the normal litany of complaints about dating and dating sites. Quite without thinking I said to her "Download Tinder. Just be careful when you make contact with someone and be sure they are who they say they are and not some married guy looking for an affair."


But she answered me with a very interesting comment. "No difference between Tinder and Jdate or the others. You always have to be careful."

There was a time, not so many years ago, when if you became serious about dating and simply found your circle of friends too small, then one joined a dating site which seemed to be compatible with your desires and requirements.


Dating sites had been around for awhile.  Match.com and Cupid were the big bullies on the block pretty much dictating the flow of the business.


I am aware that most of singles out there have ambiguous feelings about joining any dating site and some will even categorically deny being a member of any dating site. However in the course of Internet history, such as it is, dating sites are actually one of the few successful areas which have been around and make real money from real clients.


The history of dating sites is actually quite fascinating especially when one actually places it in context of social media (which came much later than dating sites). So for a moment allow me to go a bit back in time in order to fully explain the evolution of dating sites; why they were so successful (notice I use past tense here); and why Tinder has been so successful and has caused tremendous grief for the previously unchallenged leaders in this industry. Indeed the simplistic genius shown by the developers of Tinder should serve as a path for entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists and app creators as well. Tinder not only created a successful app in an industry which all thought to be overcrowded but it also managed to attack and destroy the very fundamentals upon which the Internet dating industry existed. In a few short months it has turned that industry upside-down and has sent the giants who were secure in their stranglehold on the industry - running for cover.

But let us not get ahead of ourselves. First a bit of history which to my mind should be taught in any course on Social Media given in Universities the world over.

Dating sites answer a need.They do not create a need. The need being that there are millions of singles out there who simply do not have the time or the social circle to find someone that they would like to go out with. The need is real and it is a basic human and social requirement. This was recognized as one of the first areas in the Internet where one could create a web site and actually charge clients for the service. Clients were willing to pay for this service as it answered a need they already had or a perceived need they felt they required.

Need and perception are the key words here. These are very serious requirements for a successful system. A need may be answered by a system or the very fact that a system is created, the perception grows that it is needed. Either way, these two factors are a huge leap towards the road to success. It does not guarantee such success but it certainly makes marketing and use of the system, if built well,much easier.

However, from the very inception until the rise of social networking, dating sites actually lacked one thing we do take for granted today: Viral Networking. It was not the "in" thing to admit you had joined a dating site, and often this fact was kept from friends and colleagues. Joining the systems was a very quiet and slow word of mouth with a combination of serious advertising, both in traditional paper outlets at the time and on the web. 

Yet since the dating sites did in fact answer a need they grew in clientele. The dating "profile" was created. Since paying clients were demanding more accurate results and safety buffers to protect them from trolling and stalking, the profiles grew and grew in the amount of questions asked. A great deal of personal, extremely personal information was accrued by these sites, yet at the time it was all done under the banner of "protecting the client" and most people took the time to answer most of the questions in their profile.

As the systems matured, it must be said they took pains to try and protect their now hundreds of thousands of paying clients from trolls and stalking. Those listing false profiles in terms of saying they were single when they were married and other such chicanery, were deleted. indeed the sites were so successful that the proliferated all over to every possible segment. Some started with totally "free" access and then after gaining a respectable number of users, began charging fees. For the most part clients were happy to pay those fees, again because they had a need or they perceived a need in their current lifestyle which had to be fulfilled.

There is of course a great deal more to be studied and explained here. Indeed the study of such systems could cover an entire semester in Computer studies, and would be very revealing and helpful for students. However, now we will skip a few years and enter the Social Media era, and the introduction of Smartphones and Tablets, where apps became a very focused endeavor of most developers.

There are a few things to be noted:
  1. The dating systems saw no reason to change the way they monetized the systems. Their money and profits came from clients who wanted their systems.
  2. The dating systems were incredibly slow to understand the true impact of smartphones and tablets on their economic structure. Indeed even until today, many have been loathe to create responsive apps for their systems.
  3. The systems were so ingrained in their own economic plans, that they failed to realize they had to come up with a new way to finance their operations and make a profit. Their own user-base of paying clients made them feel almost indestructible and blinded them to the possibility that any serious contender could challenge the entire system.
Then along came a very simple idea. It went back to basics. The philosophy was simple. Forget the hundreds of profile questions. Forget making money off of clients.The trick today was users. Numbers of people who actually used the system. That is where companies are valued. It is in those areas that companies will eventually find the holy grail.

So the creators of Tinder asked themselves what is important in today's world to people who want to date. They came up with a very simple formula.
  1. Show Pictures (this by the way is critical in all dating systems).
  2. A short statement from the user on what they were looking for (optional)
  3. Fast and swift.
  4. Give a location and age preference and you are up an running.
The person seeking a date or relationship is shown a photograph, clicks on it, see the other photos and short bio. Swipe one way or click - Not Interested. Swipe in the other direction - Interested. And if interested the system sends a message to the party you are interested in. And if luck is with you, they already marked you as being interested in you, and a match is made.

That was still not enough. Then Tinder allowed for communication between the two interested parties in chat. Chat is quick and swift. Either it goes somewhere and phone numbers are exchanged or both parties say goodbye and move on.

All this moved us back to basics in a modern formula. What was also genius about the system is it is FREE. Let me repeat that. FREE. No payments every month, no hundreds of profile questions. Interested in someone? Then ask them the questions in chat or on the phone. Not interested. Swipe away.

There is no doubt that systems such as these bring out rude, crude, harassing, stalking behavior as well. Got news for you. (See my page on: What Is A Bazoodie Chat? about this). All dating sites have that potential, no matter how much you pay or how many hundreds of questions you answer. This is the simple fact of dating systems.

The creators of Tinder simply went back to basics. They realized all the profile questions, all the "matches" sent in email, all the algorithms created by the traditional dating sites to match one with the other, were just superfluous public relations to keep the client coming back to the site. Maybe sometimes it worked. Yet most of the time it was just fluff.

Tinder came along and said. Make this simple. Make this free. Let the user decide. Visuals, e.g. pictures are what the user is looking for. A short bio, a quick swipe. Nothing complicated. Simplicity.

One of the most primal and original lessons to be learned from the success of Tinder is in its simplicity. The simple ideas are often the ones that show the most genius.

So if you are out there looking for a date and do not want to answer question after question, and have no desire to spend $20-$50 a month to study profiles where half the essays are ridiculous to begin with, then Tinder away.


Of course, be careful. Don't automatically believe the ages you see, the status or the pictures. Just like in every other dating system. But with all that in mind, Tinder has managed to turn one of the last bastions of Internet Systems - Dating Sites - on its head. They are not left in unenviable position of playing catch-up. And unless they rethink their entire system, where they charge for anything and everything they will find themselves antiquated swiftly.

Will you meet the one of your dreams on Tinder? Well the same odds apply to any other dating site actually. So it is just a matter of karma and luck. But...

Tinder is swift, easy and free.

Nothing more need be said.

Disclaimer: The author of this article has no stake in Tinder, nor does he know any of the staff.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What Exactly Is A Bazoodie Chat & Bazoodies?

What Exactly Is A Bazoodie Chat?


Bazoodies was created to introduce the overwhelmed and sometimes technology-challenged consumer to the wealth of technology and apps out there. It is not specifically an area for the inside specifications of each app, but rather, a place where one can find reviews and social comments on the mind-boggling options in technology. What is good, what may be problematic, and what you, the consumer are interested in.

Bazoodie Chat, which will appear in groups on the blog, and as Instagram photos, is what led to the creation of Bazoodies in the first place. Experience and perspective are great teachers in life. Over the years I have viewed, witnessed and been subject to some of the most insane, nutty, rude, scary, stalker text messages anyone would want to receive. And I am not alone. It seems the age of text messaging (see my post:  

It Is A Very Lonely World Out There) has brought out into the open a great deal more of crazy and funny. 


Poster is Copyright @ Despair.com

A couple of years ago, I suddenly found myself with an Internet Stalker from my award winning blog "Cobwebs Of The Mind". (If you think men do not have stalkers - think again!) At first it was innocent. Then after a few days of text messages I realized how crazy the person was. After getting very frustrated at trying to cut them off from my chat, I yelled out "This is nuts. It is bazoodies!". The essence of the Bazoodie Chat was born.

Enter the Bazoodie Chat. Essentially it is simple. Anyone who has been subject to a really funny chat, or on the other side of the spectrum, been the subject of rude, stalking, crazy, scary and nutty text messages is welcome to send them in to Bazoodies, and they will be published. If you or someone close to you has been the object of such messages or text conversations, you know exactly what a Bazoodie is. Just to be clear here. A Bazoodie Chat can also be an incredibly funny one. Such as Siri sending some crazy text, or someone thinking WTF? means "whole tender food".

Bazoodies will never publish your private information or your name. We just want to obviously bring this problem to the fore or have a great laugh with you.

What is required: 

  1. 1. Take a screen photo of your text. (You may need to take two or three or more to include the part of the conversation that is of interest.)
  2. Send this in the following ways:
  • Attach the photos to an email addressed to bazoodies@gmail.com and use the subject line Bazoodie Chat. These will be reviewed and all personal information will be taken out. Only the photos of the chat will be published on the blog here, and they will be published in the Instagram account Bazoodies and also tweeted @bazoodies (our hash tag is #bazoodies).
  • DM Bazoodies in Instagram or Instachat with the photos as well. 
  • You can do all of this as anonymously as you desire or not.
  • Anyone who wishes more secure communication just needs to email me, and I will give you a choice of various apps in which you can make direct contact. These include Textra, Telegram,WhatsApp, Skype Qik, Snapchat and many others. 
  • If you have any suggestions or remarks on how you handled the crazies, please include them in your email as well. We may publish them along with the chat screen photos.
The blog posts will not go out immediately but I will place a few chat screens basically on the same subject in one post at a time. e.g. Funny chats, Scary chats, Stalker chats, Crazy chats. I am sure you get the picture. But again in Instagram they will be posted immediately one by one and also go out to Twitter and appear on the Bazoodie Facebook Page.

You can follow on Instagram, Twitter the Blog and on the Bazoodie Facebook Page. You are welcome to friend me or follow bazoodies in one or all.

Bring on your Bazoodie Chats. Call the crazies out and then shrug it off! So you can go back to living and laughing. 

Remember always, be safe, be smart and be careful. Don't feel alone. Many of us experienced a Bazoodie Chat. So call them out. Shrug it off. And submit it to Bazoodies!