Thursday, April 3, 2008

My MojiPage FriendFeed widget review - good for what it does, but I want what it doesn't


Late at night, I usually sit and check my Google Reader feeds on my mobile phone while watching a DVR'ed Fox Soccer Report. But tonight something made me get up off the couch and enter the computer room.

While staring at my phone, I read an announcement from Steven Hodson on his FriendFeed Watch blog:

This story was passed along to me by Corvida and it is about a mobile service from MjiLabs called MojiPage which among other things lets you get your FriendFeed fix via your mobile phone.

Note, incidentally, that the last link goes to, not If you go to the "sb" site you can sign up immediately.

In his announcement post, Steven made the following comment:

I don’t own a cell phone so I can’t say nay or yea for the service but what I can say is that a plain and simple as the original FriendFeed page is on the web the version on MojiPage is downright dreary. Personally I couldn’t be bothered to even use the FriendFeed service if this is what I had to look forward to.

I am sure that some will gladly suffer through the bland plain jane approach but for me it just wouldn’t cut it. Maybe having a cell phone changes one’s perspective but I somehow doubt it.

Actually, Steven, having a cell phone DOES change your perspective. When I go to a page on my mobile phone, my main goal is to get it loaded quickly. My mobile web surfing is seriously hampered when I encounter a page with 200k of content, fancy graphics, and everything else that seems cool but takes forever to load. (And forget about Flash.) When I hear that a mobile page is "dreary," I actually get excited.

For the record, I have bookmarked my FriendFeed page on my mobile phone. It is fairly friendly by mobile web standards, and loads reasonably quickly, but the mobile web interface only allows me to read the page. It doesn't let me like things or comment on things, so no interaction with FriendFeed is available when you load the regular FriendFeed page.

Unfortunately, no interaction is available on the Mojilabs version either. I did register a Mojipage account, and I did add FriendFeed as a service, and the interface is very clean from a mobile perspective. I can read summaries of FriendFeed entries to my heart's content, and I can even click on links that appear in tweets.

But unfortunately, there are a number of things that you can't do from Mojipage. While the picture below was taken on my desktop computer, it's a fairly good representation (other than the dimensions) of what I saw on my phone.

Note that the only clickable link is the one in the Dave Winer tweet. You cannot click on the Google Reader items that Louis Gray and I shared, nor can you click on the Steven Hodson post. And, needless to say, I can't indicate that I like any of the items in the feed, or comment on them.

While the Mojipage version of FriendFeed loads more quickly, I actually have more access to functionality by using my mobile phone to surf to my FriendFeed page (which, as I mentioned before, I have bookmarked on my mobile phone). At least I can click on the links when I go to the main FriendFeed page.

That having been said, it's important to note that MojiPage is currently in alpha, and is not even in beta yet. The MojiPage FAQ explains the purpose of the alpha test:

The alpha test is aimed at stress testing the usability of MojiPage. Friends of the people at Moji Labs are invited to participate and provide the much needed feedback for improvements. During the one-month alpha test period, developers will also be invited to try their hands at developing widgets with the MojiPage open API. Please also note that for the period of the alpha test, email widgets will not be available. More widgets, including emails, and new feeds will be available in our next round of testing.

And they are encouraging the development of additional widgets:

Can I submit widgets and RSS feeds to MojiPage?

Yes, please! Users and Developers are encouraged to help us expand the contents made available to all MojiPage users. Please contact us by...emailing us at

So, while the current implementation of mobile FriendFeed reading isn't useful for my purposes, I should check back at some point to see if new widgets are available.

It turns out that the information from Corvida and from Steven Hodson is fairly recent; the MojiPage announcement of the FriendFeed widget is dated April 3. So they may not have received a lot of feedback yet. I'll send them my feedback; hopefully an improved version will become available.

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Wil Tan said...

Hi OntEmp!

Wow! there's a lot of interesting ideas here! We do recognize that the widget is currently lacking in interactive features, will definitely incorporate the feasible ones into the widget. For other unimplementable features (either because it doesn't make sense, or if FF API doesn't support it) we will at least link to the relevant FF URL so you can perform the actions there.

Thanks so much for trying it out and for your in-depth review!

Ontario Emperor said...

I've also seen dready's comments at Corvida's blog. I'm looking forward to what you'll come up with.

I also read the about the Moderately Modern Mobile (MoMoMo) philosophy that you espouse. Very encouraging.

Steven Hodson said...

just to update a bit here OE .. I have added a new writer to the FreiendFeed Watch site - SeekGround) who will primarily be looking after any mews to do with FriendFeed and the mobile space.

He did post a fresh arrticle on the MojiPage service and hopefully in the future will be able to give a better balanced view from the mobile space on the blog.

Ontario Emperor said...

I read SeekGround's post earlier today and am going to add my comment right now. Good addition to the site.

Wil Tan said...

Hi OE and Steve,

Just a quick note that we've added some enhancements to the widget - the ability to 'like' and 'un-like' and to comment on a post).

We've got more in store but would like to release incrementally and get more feedback.

Thanks again for your reviews!

Wil Tan said...

Hi again OE, just wanted to let you know that the problem with unclickable [like] and [comment] links on certain devices has been fixed.