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Facebook Stands Alone

In addition to its ambitious acqui-hire strategy, Zuck & Co. appear to have a new go-to: the “Standalone App”. Failure is not an option when it comes to mobile and they want to do everything they can to ensure that they deliver the best experience possible for users. Releasing standalone apps allows them to simultaneously appease power users, drive usage of a particular activity, and test the waters of early-adopters before integrating the winning build into the main Facebook app.

Take Facebook Messenger as a perfect example. The result of the Beluga acquisition last year, it was able to greater emphasize FB chat and bring a seamless experience to mobile users. Facebook Pages Manager is another standalone app enabling admins to login as their actual page and manage it more effectively beyond the desktop. Now it launches Facebook Camera just two months after snagging Instagram for a cool billion.

Facebook is slowly filling up its own folder on my iPhone and I think it is safe to say that this strategy will continue moving forward. Definitely expect to see some sort of standalone app for managing Facebook Ads (aka “Stories”) and potentially another for the new App Center. It seems that Zuck now has plenty of cash to throw down for some extra homescreen real-estate.

Increase Your APPetite

What are you really hungry for? Edamam is looking to change the way we eat by helping us build a healthier relationship with food. Powered by sophisticated semantic technology, Edamam has released a digital food knowledge platform to facilitate better daily choices. In addition to a nutrition widget for food bloggers, they just recently released a recipe search for consumers on its homepage complete with accompanying native iOS and Android apps. Simply enter what you’re hungry for and receive everything you will need to unleash your inner chef complete with recipes, ingredient lists, and nutritional info. Filter your options by dietary restrictions or calories and seamlessly share with your networks. Consider this an appetizer and expect to see a series of apps in the near future that will take advantage of this powerful platform’s API buffet.

Inbox Efficiency

Many of you probably have that one personal email address that you use strictly for signups. Maybe you don’t and instead just have a single email address for everything except work. Regardless, this likely results in a constant flow of random newsletters and “important updates” that you probably could care less about. Taking the time to manually unsubscribe from all of these requires entirely too much effort and often doesn’t even work, but there is now a better way to take control of inbox overload. Currently still in beta, Unroll.me allows you to easily identify everything you are subscribed to and manage this in a simple dashboard with a few clicks. Additionally, you can aggregate all of your subscriptions that you’d actually like to receive into a single daily “roll-up” email. With the average user having 100+ subscriptions, I strongly recommend giving your inbox(es) some spring cleaning.

For the Gmail enthusiasts out there looking to bump up your productivity, here is a winning combination to consider: Rapportive + Boomerang + Contactually. By replacing Gmail Ads with useful real-time info, Rapportive helps to put a face to any email. Scroll over an address to get a better feel for who you are dealing with including the latest from their social channels. Another way to build stronger rapport is to always send out timely emails. Baydin’s Boomerang allows you to schedule messages to go out at the perfect time or remove unnecessary clutter from your inbox until it is truly needed. It also enables you to set notifications to ensure a prompt follow-up within a designated time frame. Contactually takes this even further by sending you daily recommendations of who to reach out to based on your email usage, something that Siri probably dreams to do some day.

Notable Disruption in NYC

TechCrunch Disrupt has seen significant growth in popularity over the past few years, particularly its “Startup Battlefield” presentations. There were two clear standouts in my opinion. The first was UberConference which ended up winning the competition. Founded by the creator of Google Voice, it attempts to solve many of the blatant issues with conference calling. Leveraging a simple visual interface, it has a strong value proposition that will certainly make people think twice about using anything else. The other standout was Incident’s gTar, an innovative iPhone-powered guitar with interactive LEDs along the fretboard. Clearly a disruptive tool for an instrument with a steep learning curve, it allows anyone to pick it up and play regardless of their experience.

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