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July 7, 2013

Do we need one social app to do everything?

scope

BT_EditorialWhile smartphones are now capable of doing much more than many of us ever thought possible, such as graphic-intensive gaming, taking impressive photos, or data speeds faster than most home Internet connections. We all know that the majority of our use is still communication and social networking. For most, modern smartphones are pure overkill, which is why I assumed a switch back to BlackBerry might not be so bad, why it might be refreshing.

I own a Blackberry Q10 along with a HTC One and I like them both for various reasons.

I spend the majority of my time on my phone staring at social feeds, posting status updates and pictures, tweeting, perusing Google+, and now getting back into the swing of Instagram. And, for the time being, I still catch myself opening up Vine for a few minutes.

Being able to connect with and reach so many people in so many different ways has completely changed the way I socialise, even in face to face. No longer do I have to share my number to stay in touch with someone I just met. And I can keep up with people I’m not extremely close with from a distance, and reach out from time to time.

That said, managing so many different social accounts can be so time consuming even painful at times.

When I’m on my phone killing time (normally walking the dogs), I make the rounds. I start with either Google+ or Twitter. I check my notifications, flick through the timelines, and I might post something, do a few retweets, or share something interesting someone else posted to Google+. Then I back out. And I quickly glance through Facebook,  looking for anything from family and friends that might be of interest to me and clearing out more notifications. Then comes Instagram and Vine, in which I tend to spend a lot less time. If I get any new notifications I open, respond, or acknowledge. Then I progress to Feedly for a quick news fix.

I do this every morning, and throughout the day without even thinking about it.

And every time I want to share something to more than one network at a time, I have to jump into each dedicated application, copy, paste, select the picture or share the link, and publish. I do it once for Twitter, once for Google+, and once for Facebook.

There are sometimes exceptions, such as sharing a picture or video to Instagram or making a Vine. With Vine, you can also share to Facebook and Twitter simultaneously. And with Instagram, you can send to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, email, Flickr, and Foursquare in one fell swoop.

For the most part, however, each service acts and stands as its own entity, requiring time spent in separate, dedicated applications.

A lot of my time via mobile is consumed by switching between applications, compulsively refreshing one stream, jumping to another application, answering a notification, switching back to the previous app, and so on and so forth. No wonder I need a external Battery pack!

Life would be so much simpler if there was a single application to do it all, a catch-all for every service I use.

Unfortunately, that’s not entirely available right now. The Google+ sharing APIs still aren’t available, meaning there are no third-party applications for Google+.

But there are third-party clients available:
For practically every other service. And that’s where two great applications come into play. The first is one I’ve been using for ages, since my early days on BlackBerry. SocialScope, now known solely as Scope,  (Google play link at below) was one of the first so-called “social inbox” apps to hit the market. Back in the day, it only offered Twitter and Facebook, but that was good enough for me – one application that was a great client for two services.

Today Scope handles Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Tumblr, and even some news feeds. And it beautifully separates that data into different categories: photos, videos, check-ins, apps, notifications, messages, and a catch-all feed for everything. That means feeds from all your accounts will appear in a single feed, which can be filtered by the type of content. (Google play link at below).

I’ve only been using it since Friday after a fairly long time away. After its initial beta launch on Android, Scope wasn’t quite up to snuff. Its performance was … pitiful. But the app has come a very long way. Our only complaint with it now is that it’s ad-supported or subscription-based.

Why oh why, did they not make it a premium application, a one-time deal, to remove ads in Scope?

The other application is iOS-only, and while it’s still relatively new, we’ve come to really like it over the last few weeks. It’s called Fuse (iTunes link below) from Laicos. The premise is much the same as Scope. It’s an all-in-one social client that handles Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

While I like the feel of a dedicated application, and official apps (with the exception of Twitter clients), there’s nothing like getting a unified feed from all my social accounts, being able to switch between commenting on a Facebook status to liking an Instagram photo and re-tweeting a hilarious tweet from within one application.

Neither Scope nor Fuse are perfect. And, no, they’re not going to offer intricate features and settings that dedicated apps will – like Bitly account support for link shortening in a twitter client, or Pocket support for reading articles later. But the convenience of an all-in-one social client is remarkable.

It’s apps like these that I wish would really catch on. And one major way to improve them, at least for my use case, is for Google to allow Google+ sharing and feeds from third-party clients. Also, Feedly support in Scope would be incredible.

One last thought:
Would it be possible the Michael Birch who now has Bebo back in the family could be looking at making Bebo the catch-all app for every service.

Do you use an all-in-one social client to handle multiple feeds? Do you enjoy the added convenience? Or do you prefer dedicated applications for each?

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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini