Huddle adds more new features, but where's the mobile app? Coming, apparently

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I’ll be honest. I never quite understood what you could do with Huddle that you couldn’t with, say, the latest versions of Microsoft Office. (Woah, steady on there. I’m just sayin’. And since you bring it up, yes, I think Word 2007 is the best word processor ever conceived by man. No, really.) Sure, it was nice and shiny, and I liked the people who worked there, and Gosh! they seem to be growing pretty quickly, don’t they? What is it now, 30 members of staff?

But I never really got it… until this morning, that is. This morning, when, after receiving a mailshot about a few fairly minor new features, I thought I’d log in again and give it another try, after perhaps nine months. Crikey. It’s bloody marvellous, isn’t it? Looks great, works great, and of course my comparison with Office is unfair: to use Groove, for example, you have to have everyone in your team using a version of Office with it installed. In a world were IE6 still reigns supreme in corporate environments (the last big company I worked for – a media organisation – was still stuck in the dark ages in that respect), it’s not a given that everyone will be upgraded promptly.

Huddle, on the other hand, is completely web-based, and so platform and office suite agnostic, but it’s also file format agnostic. You can upload any kind of file to collaborate on. A Zoho-powered editor enables you to work on Word and Excel files together directly in the browser. You need only visit the homepage to see who’s using the service these days, from big corporations to government departments.

But I have a question. Why on earth isn’t there a mobile version?

I’ve always wondered why Huddle doesn’t have a mobile site or app of some kind. I mean, seriously: why no iPhone app, guys? Isn’t that a no-brainer for this kind of tool? Apparently, I’m not the only person to think this: Huddle conducted its own user survey recently that revealed a mobile app was the number one feature request from existing customers. So can we hope for something from the company soon? In a word: yes, as co-founder Andy McLoughlin told me this afternoon. (He didn’t elaborate, save to say it would be “awesome”. Obviously.)

So, the matter of mobile dealt with, I suppose the other big consideration for Huddle-watchers is the imminent arrival of Google Wave. What does it mean for Huddle?

According to McLoughlin, nothing particularly bad: “We’ll integrate it as part of our solution. We’re very excited about it.” But doesn’t Wave pull the rug out from under Huddle’s feet a little? “No, not really. Wave isn’t a complete solution on its own. Most of the exciting stuff people are doing with it capitalises on the technology under the hood. That’s what we’ll be doing too.”

In case you were wondering, the new features that prompted me to investigate Huddle again are a new online media viewer (no more downloading JPGs just to find out if you need to download them); easier sign-in; easier invitations to new users from within Huddle workspaces; improved discussion notifications and new dashboard and workspace welcome pages. Oh, and they take AmEx now, too.

  • Andy

    Thanks for the write-up Milo!

    We’ve got some really great (sorry, #awesome) stuff coming in the next couple of months, with one item in particular answering some of your points above :)

    If any TC readers want to give Huddle a try they can use any of our premium packages free for a month using the promo code 1MONTHFREE



  • Konstantinos Kontos

    Dear Mr. Yiannopoulos,

    though has kept quiet about the fact, please note that there IS a native iPhone App for Huddle and has been available for 3 months now!!!.

    It’s titled “HUDSpace” and it’s developed by me.

    I invite you to come and take a look at:

    Kind regards.

    • Milo Yiannopoulos

      Thanks for pointing this out, Konstantinos. I wasn’t aware of your iPhone app.

  • Anon

    Huddle is so bad I don’t quite get why it’s so big and famous let alone get used by major corporations.

    • Ugly – the designers should be fired

    • Hard to use – the most basic usability standards are not applied

    • Page driven – almost no ajax requests anywhere – making it real slow to use.

    • Cluttered – too many options everywhere, too much information, HUGE word count even at the start when you have no content in it.

    • Limited – It has a big team, good investment, yet what do they have to show for it? Some basic functionalities that can be coded in months by amateur developers.

    I think Huddle is the type of business that has done well for itself purely based on the founder/ceo being REALLY good at selling it but clearly not at all good at developing a strong product. And whereas that means they can achieve fame right now, their long term success looks bleak as other companies could so easily replicate their features in a much MUCH better way and with a fraction of the investment.

    • Milo Yiannopoulos

      Well, anon, I guess enough of those major corporations don’t agree with you about the usability and features. And based on revisiting Huddle this morning, to be honest, neither do I.

      • Edward

        The big corporations use it for lack of a better option and not because it is an amazing piece of software.

        Users often can’t tell a bad software until they see a better one (ie: Windows and OS X)

        If users knew how much easier their lives could be with a properly developed software they’d switch to it in a snap.

        Their productivity could be doubled if Huddle cared about usability and used the latest browser technologies on their app.

        Take creating a new task for instance:

        • Click “New Task”
        • It loads a new page (no ajax)
        • Focus is not automatically on the title field, so I now have to go to my mouse and click the title field.
        • I fill out the fields and tab through, no problem!
        • Date only supports a standard format – I can’t say “next week”, “tomorrow”, 16th of August, etc.
        • Now I try to press “enter” to submit the task, but for whatever reason I can’t, I need to once again move to the mouse and click on the far away “Create” button.
        • A new page loads again (no ajax)
        • Instead of taking me to my overview os tasks, it takes me to the task itself (why would I want to see just the task I just created?)

        As a power user, if I want to create 20 tasks to my team it’s not exactly going to be pleasant is it? Switching between mouse and keyboard 3 times during the process, having to fiddle with date formats and having to wait for whole pages to load when ajax is even available in IE6!

        The things I mentioned above can be done by a developer in about a day, but they are probably spending their investment money on sale representatives and marketing, rather than a on good dev team who can create an excellent product.

        Personally, I’d rather create an excellent long lasting product than make my money selling a substandard product to the masses.

      • Andy

        Agreed, this isn’t completely optimal and we’ll be working on improving the task management soon.

        Still, though, why the bile? Did we steal your puppy or something?

      • Edward

        lol, no, just a bit too passionate about design and usability and a bit bitter to see big companies not care about it from the start.

        I don’t like reading hype about a bad product, especially when millions have been spent on it and it’s still bad. (ie, windows, office, etc)

        Do forgive me though, easy to get overly passionate and carried away on the internet.

      • Alessandro Giannone

        Anon, Edward – I agree with most of your comments. We set out 10 months ago to address just these issues.

        I’ve been working with Enterprise Content Management for over 6 years now. Delivering several large in house projects for large clients. We delivered products such as Sharepoint, Documentum and Alfresco just to list some of them. It got to the point where we had enough of hearing clients complain and decided that the world of ECM was ready for a revamp and access to some of the new functionality that can be delivered through modern browsers! Not to mention making the most of SaaS.

        With this in mind, we created SambaJam. We are currently running a private Beta program and want to share with people who may be interested in using an ECM platform designed for the future! (a little tacky I know, but I like it :))

        If you wish to join the Beta, you can email me at agiannone at sambastream dot com or just visit the Beta sign-up form:

        I will get you setup online ASAP and if you like send you an email with a brief explanation of what we do, what we are planning on doing, etc.

        If anyone else is interested, let me know. I don’t want this to sound like a shameless plug, it’s just that this type of comment is what we built SambaJam for. People tired of the same old clunky Web0.1 type interface.


    • Antony Slumbers

      Anon, Edward – interesting comments. You ‘may’ be interested in taking a look at, our Project, Contact and Image Management service.

      Please do not look if you do not like Flex based RIAs though, as you will hate it.

      BUT if you are OK with that I would hope you would appreciate the attention we have lavished on design, functionality and usability.

      Yours in trepidation,

      Antony Slumbers

  • Jules Morgan

    I’m not sure what this article is about.

    If Huddle had released a mobile app, that would be news. If it was a conversation about Google Wave and ways it was being integrated, that would be insightful.

    This just feels like PR.

    • Milo Yiannopoulos

      News: a mobile app is confirmed as on its way by the Huddle co-founder.

      News: new features added to Huddle this week.

      Any other questions?

      • Konstantinos Kontos

        Still no comment on my above comment….

        Well, what can I say.

        This is definitely “objective” news coverage.

      • Fabio

        Konstantinos, is your app a mashup you did by yourself or is it endorsed by Huddle? Just my curiosity.

      • Jo

        Are you getting more than “a drink” for this one Milo? This really isn’t newsworthy.

      • Konstantinos Kontos

        Not sure what you mean exactly by the term “mashup”.

        It’s not an official App.
        I can safely say though (through my co-operation with the Huddle people) that it is THE most extensive use of their API so far.

  • DominicTravers

    Damn, I’m reading Techcrunch again.

    If your stuck in the “dark ages” of systems labelled 2003 that actually hark back to another millenium, Huddle is life changing stuff.
    For my tuppence these guys offer the best solution of it’s class.

    Just having an iPhone app is not really a mobile solution for Huddles core market.

    How much are the puppies going for?

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  • James Caan, Richard Moross and Jerome Touze to speak at Microsoft’s UK BizSpark Summit 

    […] program, which offers support and services to emerging technology companies. Success stories like Huddle began on BizSpark before being escalated to Microsoft’s Startup Accelerator […]

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  • Alessandro Giannone

    I just thought I’d put up a link to a blog explaining what I meant by slightly less pre-historic types of interfaces:

    • Antony Slumbers

      Alessandro – I completely agree with you about interfaces. Much of the ‘new’ stuff is just the old thinking with an affected ‘Web 2.0’ twist. But, in the corporate world there is still the curse of IE6 to consider.

      We do a lot of work with financial firms in the City of London and, perhaps surprisingly, about 35% of them are still on IE6. So taking your approach of not supporting IE6 would be….brave. At least for us.

      Which is why we got real RIA functionality by utlising Adobe Flex for Glasnost 21. Everyone has Flash, it’s quick to develop, totally cross browser and gives you lots of scope for raising the bar.

      Either way though, I applaud your attitude. Best of luck with your product.

      Antony Slumbers

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