A few times lately I’ve run in to several old nemeses on the web. Irritating flaws in design or function, lack of expected capabilities, or other general lack of reading my mind on the part of developers. So, like any whiny geek, I’m blogging about it.
Here is my wish list of things that I thing Google and others should tackle to make my life easier (in no particular order). Hop to it!
1) Flickr/Facebook integration: I really wish Yahoo would go ahead and buy Facebook so they could integrated it with Flickr. Flickr finally got around to letting you tag people in photos (years after Facebook did), but it is still limited to your Flickr contacts (not even just other Flickr members) and so few of my friends and family are on Flickr that this amounts to very few people being available for tagging. Facebook on the other hand has a massive adoption rate and just about everyone I know is available for tagging. But Facebook’s photo service is just bad. Images are compressed and resized to horrible quality, you can’t tag photos on maps, group them, etc. If I could tag my Facebook friends on my Flickr photos…[sigh]. That’s a world I want to live in.
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2) Improve Google Calendar on my Android phone: The GMail and Calendar experience is far better on Android than any other mobile platform, but it still has some pretty huge gaps considering the development teams sit down the hall from one another.
A) Invitation Handling – Invites opened in GMail on my Android phones just open a cludgey web interface and don’t link directly to the Calendar app on my phone. Difficult to manage.
B) Show other attendees on events in the Calendar app. If I have an upcoming call for work, it would be nice to be reminded of who will be attending the call.
C) Invitations! Allow me invite others when creating an event on the Calendar app. I can do it from the web, why not the app?
3) Fix Pandora User Login:
Instead of using browser cookies like every other website in the world, Pandora stores user login info in some special way that is apparently stupid. Maybe within the Flash app itself? My wife and I use the same desktop login and same install of Firefox, but use different profiles within Firefox. Each contains our own bookmarks, cache, and set cookies for the dozens of sites we use everyday. Every site on the web works fine – except Pandora. If I log in to Pandora, then close Firefox, then Christy brings up Pandora under her profile, it will be logged in as me. If she logs out, signs into Pandora as herself, then closes the browser and we load my Firefox profile, Pandora will still be on her login. Why?!?
4) Contact Categories in Android: Smallish nitpick here, but for some reason the categories that are created and used for organizing contacts on GMail (over the web) don’t sync to categories on Android phones – just the default 3 categories (Friends, Family, Coworkers). Any custom made contact groups do just fine on web-based GMail, but don’t sync to my phone, so really, what’s the point?
5) Facebook Live Feed Sticking: Why would I want Facebook to select just a few posts that it things I’d like to see from my friends and then display them in a random (non-chronological) order? That’s what the standard Facebook feed does now. Of course they make the “Live” feed still available (everything friends are doing in the order they do them in) but I can’t get Facebook to give that to me by default. Sometimes when I pull up Facebook it remembers my last view settings, but sometimes it doesn’t. It also won’t pass the “live” view to the Facebook app on my phone, just their hacked up version of my feed.
6) More Functions in Google Spreadsheets:
Being able to add cells together does not a spreadsheet make. Beyond lacking more advanced features like macros, pivot tables, and beyond (which I can kinda understand) Google Spreadsheets lacks some fairly common and basic commands. From VLOOKUP to SUMIF and COUNTIF, very usable features are just missing. I understand if Microsoft has some goofy copyright on those exact phrases, but the function isn’t copyrightable or patentable. Refac vs Lotus was one of the first cases I studied in Copyright Law and it is all about spreadsheet formulas and software patents. If you want individuals, businesses and schools to seriously consider using Google Docs as an MS Office replacement, Spreadsheets has a long way to go.
7) Expanded manipulation of picture data in Flickr: I can add tags in bulk, place pictures on a map in bulk, add people to photos in bulk, add and remove photos from sets in bulk, add photos to a group in bulk, etc, etc. You can edit a photo, crop it, flip it, change the saturation, etc. But a few things you can’t do because they would just be too darn useful-
A) Edit “Date Taken” in bulk- Flickr stores two dates for every photo on the service: Date/time taken, and Date/time uploaded. If a pictures has EXIF data with a date/time stamp, it uses that to determine time taken. If there is no EXIF data, it assumes that it was “taken” when it was uploaded. So if you upload of bunch of pictures today from, say, your wedding in June 2002 ago and there’s no EXIF date data because they were scanned in, Flickr will set the “date taken” date to today’s date. If you want to change all the “date taken” data to be the correct date – settle in for a long night. You have to change all of them one by one because Flickr won’t let you change dates or times in bulk. It’s not like Flickr has some objection or technological restriction for being able to change the dates – they let you change them. Just not in bulk. Huge pain! Holy crap!! I just figured out where they added this. I swear it wasn’t a feature just a few months ago the last time I tried. “Change all to same day” is now an option in the Organizer!
B) “Date Uploaded” vs display order- Obviously this is similar to the above objection, but slightly different reason. The “Date Uploaded” date/time is how Flickr determines the order the pictures display in your stream. If you want to change the order of the photos in your stream, you have to edit the upload date. If you upload a bunch of pictures in set A, then upload more in set B, but you want the photos in set B to show up earlier in your time line than those in A, you once again have to manually edit each individual photo’s upload date/time. Just silly. Of course this could be fixed by having a new “display order” property for each photo. That way the upload date could be kept accurate and real and you could still change the order that your photos displayed. Another annoying glitch this would help get rid of: Flickr won’t let you set the “Date Uploaded” date to anything before you create your Flickr account (which I understand would be impossible, but if you’re going to let me change the upload date then reality clearly doesn’t mean that much to you). The upshot of this is that if you uploaded something the day you created your Flickr account (which most people do of course), you can never have anything display before it in the timeline without not only moving the new picture back, but moving the old picture up. Huge pain.
8) Bring back the Facebook social timeline: Small one here too. Facebook used to have this cool tool where you could see your “social life” at a glance on a timeline. When you went to school, started jobs, became friends, got married, etc. I always found it really interesting to see and fascinating to see other people’s timelines. A few years ago they took the feature away with no explanation, even though they left in the ability to identify where and when you became friends with people (though few actually use the feature anymore). Seems like a flip of the switch to add it back. (…and yes, i already joined the Facebook group asking them to add the feature back)
UPDATE — 9) “Mark as read” in Twitter: Like most people, I use Twitter from several different access points. Twidroid on my phone, Twhirl on my work PC, and BeTwittered on my iGoogle home page. I follow quite a few people on two different accounts. I’d love it if Twitter supported the ability for me to mark ‘where I left of’ on my Twitter feed. Right now I have to just scroll through until I start seeing familiar tweets. Twidroid has a feature that will mark my place in my feed, but that doesn’t carry over to other apps so unless I go Twidroid exclusive (not happening) it won’t work. My guess this would have to either be a totally new API feature and/or some kind of OMPL implementation on top of Twitter.
That’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure to think of more later, so watch this space for more brilliant and original life changing ideas for improving the web. After all, I’m sure I was the first to think of all of these improvements.
Oh – and please feel free to contribute more of your own suggestions, or better yet, if you know work-arounds for any of the above issues, please share in the comments!