My Taptu arrives to take on Flipboard and Pulse in the touch aggregator stakes

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Touch interfaces for content and social media are, thanks to applications like Pulse and Flipboard – the ‘new new thing’. They are presenting streams of information in a far easier to digest manner and generating lots of engagement. Think how long you might spend on an app like Tweetdeck and then work out what would happen if that way of consuming went even more mainstream, especially on tablets like the iPad.

Well this appears to be the ambition of a new free Android and iPhone app which launches today, My Taptu, and will appear on iPad in due course. It’s also part of the re-invention of its maker, Taptu, which has until now specialised in mobile search and touch-based interfaces for mobile, but is now bringing that expertise to bear on an app which promises to organise your social and content streams in a highly scalable way. And they appear to have the firepower.

Currently Pulse only lets you add 20 streams to the app, while Flipboard allows for 21 ‘sections’. My Taptu will let users have have 5000 mixed streams. That is a huge difference. Taptu could well have a chance against Flipboard and Pulse with its new app when it eventually launches on iPad in December.

Although billed as a new social news aggregator, the difference here is that they appear to have mashed up a little of the interface magic and RSS capabilities of Pulse with the social elements of Flipboard, at least after a fashion. The ability to bring in realtime social streams like Twitter and Facebook are limited to RSS for now until the next version launches in a few weeks.

Users can add single streams from content publishers and mixed topic streams via Taptu itself. For instance, the technology news ‘stream’ might take news from TechCrunch, Venture Beat, the NYT¹s Bits Blog, GigaOm and the FT.com. (This called a Folder in my book). But a clever aspect is the ability to watch content stream in from sites that do not have a RSS feed – especially useful for many fashion retail sites for instance. Taptu has also created a ‘Stream Store’ of suggested feeds where you can add streams by clicking on trending topics and by searching for them. You add RSS feeds if Taptu has found them, and it has found a lot. You can also recommend, manage and share the streams.

Does it pull in content from my twitter friends like Flipboard? Not yet. Self-curation and sharing will drop in a few weeks. While the app claims to integrate Social Streams, I found this limited. I could only add my own Twitter stream via searching for it inside the app and then it was clearly just picking up my Twitter account’s RSS feed not the realtime stream. But I’m assured this is poised to become much easier following this initial launch. “The first release is all about content” I’m told. For now you can at least share content you discover via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Despite the above limitations, we’re hearing on the grapevine that the app has been wowing Apple insiders. Right now we’re talking about an app which will bring in content (curated by in-house editorial people), into a very nice interface. But around the corner they plan to take on the likes of Flipboard and others.

Mitch Lazar, who recently switched chairman roles with founder Steve Ives to become CEO, says: “My Taptu is a clever yet simple social news aggregator that we believe our customers will return to many times a day.” The key phrase for Taptu here is “many times a day”.

There is an interesting story behind Taptu. When it appeared focused on mobile search a few years ago it was way ahead of its time. It even had a name which implied touch interfaces. But it’s now had to re-invent itself at least a couple of times to take account of the appearance of the iPhone, touch screens and tablets.

In all honesty it’s a while since heard from Taptu. Last year they released an Android and then an iPhone app last year for search, and in 2008 secured a £6.45m series B financing. But not a lot else has been happening, at least publicly. We rather thought they were heading for the deadpool.

Lazar says Taptu had “great assets but not enough gravity, in the sense of bringing people back to the app several times a day.” He felt streams was where the market was going so shifted the company in this direction.

“We think we can monetise in other ways. It’s not exciting unless we can get to a subscription model, but won’t happen any time soon.” He says Flipboard is a “great design. but we are on to something.” He also acknowledges that Tweetdeck is in much the same competition category as the ‘new’ Taptu.

The move makes sense for Taptu, which until now has dedicated its in-house curation resources to its mobile App Taptu Search. But it’s clear to me that despite good reviews the app was not the future of this company. So it’s fascinating to see them pivot their strategy in this manner.

However, just adding Twitter and Facebook is only half the battle. With sites like Curated.by, Peer Index and Nsyght now, it’s not enough to just pull in feeds – you also need smart filtering, curation and intelligence.

While Lazar runs the company from Denver, Colorado, its core team is based in Cambridge, UK, where is draws on a lot of local technology talent, many of which feature in a series of new, moody videos the company has made to accompany this launch.

Watching them, you get the feeling this launch represents Taptu’s big throw of the dice. And with MyTaptu they are hoping for a double six.

Here’s my short test of the app:

  • Andrew Brackin

    I’m not a fan of the UI or design.

  • a_usman

    Very interesting!

  • http://jetlib.com/news/2010/11/08/mytaptu-to-take-on-flipboard-and-pulse-in-the-touch-aggregator-stakes/ MyTaptu To Take On Flipboard And Pulse In The Touch Aggregator Stakes | JetLib News

    […] Read the rest of this entry » […]

  • http://scobleizer.com Robert Scoble

    Oh, wait, it doesn’t even do Twitter yet? So, how is it taking on Flipboard? Sigh. I don’t do RSS anymore. Everything I care about is in Twitter.

  • jacke_23

    Seriously? This is a direct copy of Pulse without adding anything significant to the market.

  • http://twitter.com/developar developar

    are…. ?

  • Philip Sheldrake

    Robert, of course it does Twitter!

    Brings in your Twitter stream. You can share by Twitter. It even goes and grabs the content at short-URLs so you can see if it’s worth your while going to the full version.

    More Twitter sweetness coming in future releases.

    [disclosure: I’m working with Taptu]

  • Jack Harlow

    I am going to be interested to see what this looks like when the UI is complete – its all looking a bit 70s at the mo…. Beige, honestly??

  • Philip Sheldrake

    jacke_23, I believe I’m right in saying that Pulse can pull in stuff so long as it’s available via RSS. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    My Taptu leans on the company’s heritage in search… it’s able to define and curate streams without having to rely on it having been published in RSS format. It selects relevant items from various sources to compile a superior stream.

    Pulse on iPhone / Android also has a restriction of 20-25 sources last I checked. My Taptu has no such limit.

    And did you spot that My Taptu is free?

    [disclosure: I’m working with Taptu]

    • http://twitter.com/mikebutcher Mike Butcher

      You guys need to be clear about whether you are pulling in the realtime feed from Twitter accounts or just RSS. I understood it that you pull in RSS only now and will do realtime later? Correct? Yes? No?

      • Philip Sheldrake

        Hi Mike, thanks for the question and apologies for any confusion. I’ve just spoken with Konstantinos, Taptu’s Sr Director of Product & Engineering, and here’s how My Taptu works with respect to Twitter. He’d be responding himself if he wasn’t on a train with poor 3G connectivity.

        My Taptu employs the realtime Twitter (ie, the Twitter API) for your own Twitter stream, which, for the avoidance of any further confusion, is all the tweets from your network. If you search in the StreamStore for a twitter feed, that comes to you via RSS.

        As My Taptu evolves I’m sure the team will continue to look closely at the blurry line between social news aggregator and full blown Twitter clients like Tweetdeck. My Taptu and Tweetdeck obviously set out to achieve quite different things, but there’s no doubting the small but intriguing overlap.

      • jacke_23

        Pulse for iPad actually has a 60 feed limit while Flipboard for iPad has a 21 feed limit. You can add your twitter and facebook via API to Pulse for iPad and facebook API to Pulse for Android. Geez get it right.

      • Philip Sheldrake

        I want it. I need it. But where’s My Taptu for iPhone?

        Taptu CEO Mitch Lazar has posted to the company blog to keep you up to date, sort of, on My Taptu for iPhone.

  • Jenny

    Maybe you should of had it ready for downloading before this was put up on TechCrunch :(

  • Philip Sheldrake

    Jenny… I hear you… the Android one is rocking, but it doesn’t seem to have been listed in App Store quite when we were led to believe! Later this morning we’re assured.

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  • Ken Snyder

    Just downloaded from Android Market and within the first 10-seconds I got it and am impressed. I do see myself returning to this app many times per day.

    Kudos!

  • http://pwcom.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/mytaptu-news-at-your-fingertips-on-your-smartphone/ MyTaptu – news at your fingertips on your smartphone « pwcom 2.0

    […] CIPR activist, Android user and technology advocate Philip Sheldrake, I got early access to MyTaptu – launched today (see TechCrunch review) –  and have already become a convert. Indeed when […]

  • http://YourVersion.com Sylvanus

    It is interesting to see MyTaptu’s take on bringing users social and news content. With Flipboard’s focus on social networks and curated news and Pulse putting a nice front end on RSS, it is great to see this space getting more attention.

    I’m with YourVersion http://www.YourVersion.com and we have a different approach than My Taptu, Flipboard and Pulse in that we are focused on topic based discovery. We bring you recent and relevant content tailored to your specific interests. We launched last year at TechCrunch50 where we won the People’s Choice Award. We have built a website, free iPad, free iPhone and free Android apps.

    We are focused on topic specific versus source specific because we believe that users don’t have the time to search for the best, new content on the web about their particular interests. Also, at a macro level, the ever increasing amount of new content online (billions of pages per day according to Google’s blog) versus the finite amount of time in the day (24 hours) means that there already is a chronic pain between our available time and the amount of new web content to consume. We built YourVersion to solve this problem.

    Good luck to My Taptu. We are excited to see where this space develops. And for those looking for an award winning topic based discovery experience, I invite you to try YourVersion on our website, iPad, iPhone or on Android.

  • http://wind333.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/my-daily-readings-11102010/ My daily readings 11/10/2010 « Strange Kite

    […] My Taptu arrives to take on Flipboard and Pulse in the touch aggregator stakes <span class="“> – Annotated […]

  • Philip Sheldrake

    Jenny, just to let you know, My Taptu is now available in the Apple App Store :-)

  • http://cheap-websitehosting.net avaifleva

    Hi i am new to this community and i am very pleased to have joined it ,i will try my best to be dedicated :)

  • http://www.moblly.com Ned

    Great app.
    App of the day on Moblly – http://www.moblly.com/iPhone_My_Taptu

  • http://kernelreloaded.blog385.com/index.php/archives/flipboard-android-alternative/ /kernel_reloaded/

    […] Links: Pulse Versus Flipboard Flipboard and Pulse: Not-Quite-Magazines for the iPad My Taptu arrives to take on Flipboard and Pulse in the touch aggregator stakes […]

  • http://www.makenoise.co.za/taptu-brings-a-personalized-and-customizable-social-news-reading-app-to-the-ipad/ Taptu Brings A Personalized And Customizable Social News Reading App To The iPad | MakeNoise

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  • http://jetlib.com/news/2011/04/14/taptu-brings-a-personalized-and-customizable-social-news-reading-app-to-the-ipad/ Taptu Brings A Personalized And Customizable Social News Reading App To The iPad | JetLib News

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