Stuff That Just Works

I’ve been so very busy lately, but not with bloggable activity. This week has been slow on Mix news; ENTP is putting the finishing touches on a big feature, and we did deploy a few bug fixes.

I did finally catch up on feed reading from a month ago, and a post from friend of the ‘Lab Jeff Nolan about TwitterFone caught my eye.

TwitterFone allows you to tweet by phone.


After you sign up for the invite-only service and verify your phone by SMS, all you need to do is call the TwitterFone number and speak your tweet.

Presto, minutes later, out comes your tweet into your tweetstream. The voice to text is pretty good, and they add a TinyURL to your tweet pointing to the recorded version, just in case you don’t enunciate properly. Case in point is my tweet about Beer and Blog. Yes, it’s a real thing we do here in PDX.

Wow Factor
A few things jump to mind here. First off, Jeff is right about the Wow Factor. This puppy just works, exactly as advertised, no additional setup required. Reminds me of TripIt, another Wow Factor Hall of Fame member. I hear Sandy is also that way, but I’ve yet to get that configured. Also noteworthy is Jott, which I’m told has the same capabilities as TwitterFone, plus more, for happy people in the US and Canada. Again, Jott is on my short list to try.

I am enamored with services that just work, especially if they work with other services I use all the time like email and phone. Simplicity is refreshing.

Here come the groans. Yet another way to tweet. W00t! TwitterFone opens the door to all manner of tweets; the first that came to mind was tweeting my annoyance with other drivers, as I was unceremoniously cut off in traffic. That stuff matters here in Portland, where we still have driving manners.

Beyond tweeting my road rage, I can imagine practical uses for TwitterFone. For example, it allows an even faster way to report events, e.g. the recent earthquake in China, as reported by our very own Dean Tan. Word has it Twitter reported that 3 minutes before the USGS did.

I have trouble tweeting with my iPhone because typing kills the immediacy of the moment. TwitterFone removes that barrier. So you can report news or other noteworthy events faster. Maybe you see a hit and run and tweet the license number and accident location using TwitterFone. Maybe you hear on the radio they’re giving away free gas and you want to share the love with your tweeple.

TwitterFone closes that news reporting gap very nicely.

Pat Phelan (@patphelan), who generously provided me with a few invites, tells me that although TwitterFone does not currently support direct messaging and @ replies, these are planned. I can’t wait. I frequently fill up my integrated messaging inbox with voicemail reminders, which are easy to leave when I think of stuff while I’m driving. I could use Twitter for short notes, which is a much lighter weight solution.

So I’m very pleased with TwitterFone so far and plan to use it a lot, especially with a conference coming up next week. Live blogging will be much easier by voice.

All Twitter, All the Time
I blab about Twitter a lot. It’s not for everyone, but more and more people are finding real value beyond sharing horribly mundane details about their lives.

Twitter’s ecosystem and API are why it matters (via WWD). Twitter’s API allows all manner of client apps and bots to use it and even monetize it (e.g. Twhirl), when Twitter itself has no public business model. The API has led to viral spread and (possibly) unintended uses like bots (e.g. Firebot, Timer).  Bots create a command-line widget, perfect for targeted tasks and accessible from all manner of clients, thanks again to the Twitter API.

Venkataramanan S sent me an extreme example of what Twitter can do, Twitter + Bash, which I had to have explained to me (I know, shell fail).

Twitter is an essential tool for a distributed workforce too. I went to an informal tweetup yesterday, and everyone there had a flexible work environment, i.e. worked from home or from wherever. For those of us who don’t have a water cooler, Twitter serves this purpose.

Mobile New Web
TwitterFone joins Brightkite and Evernote as recent mobile New Web sites I’ve joined. Then I joined Jott, just for fun. I’m intrigued by the use of SMS commands to manipulate these web apps. I haven’t yet decided if they’ll stick for me, since I’m a bit of luddite when it comes to mobile web.

The main reason I bought an iPhone was to take Interwebs with me though, so I’m going to condition myself to use these services.

On its surface, mobile web seems like a huge are for opportunity, so I expect new apps will sprout up often.

Big thanks to Pat again for the invites, which I quickly dispatched.




  1. Jake, like Tyler I love Jot, I use it all the time. You can easily link it up with Sandy so instead of doing your todo reminders through twitter, its already built into Sandy. You can also have Sandy link up with your friends so you can send them messages and reminders. Like when its time for Paul to give you guys another raise.

  2. Yeah, Jott does seem to have some satisfied users. I saw a tweet from Pat with someone else referencing the “Jott-heads” being in “attack mode” in blogs that mention TwitterFone. I really do have Jott and Sandy on my list of stuff to try, but I am easily distracted by shiny new objects.

  3. thanks for the post Jake
    As I have said everywhere, we love Jott also 🙂
    twitterfone is a global product which at present works for twitter only (we love it that way)
    Twitter is global and twitterfone intends to follow its lead
    we are now in 20 countries and intend to be in 50 soon.

  4. I've enjoyed using TwitterFone so far. It captures the immediacy of the moment nicely. Seems like Jott has similar functions, and I plan to test it out soon.

    Despite some overlap, I think there's room for both. TwitterFone rules, keep up the good work.

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