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May 22, 2008

Take FriendFeed Mobile With FF To Go

Just about every wish list for FriendFeed contains a request that the company's development team make a customized version for mobile phones. I know mine from December sure did. While FriendFeed plays nicely with the iPhone and iPod Touch's built-in Safari browser and others are turning to MojiPage to get their FriendFeed activity on the go, there hasn't yet been a focused effort to bring a mobile version of FriendFeed to cell phones, until now.

Fresh off his launch of Tweet2Tweet just this last Saturday, Benjamin Golub, also the author of RSSMeme, and formerly, a project called DearLazyWeb, has developed a site aimed to get FriendFeed out of the browser, and into your cell phone, letting you comment and like as you would at home. The site is called "FF to Go" and can be found at www.fftogo.com.


Over the last few days, I've been testing FF To Go, not just on my iPod Touch, but also, my BlackBerry, and at first blush, FF To Go enables all the core functionality offered by FriendFeed's standard interface, including making likes and comments, and importantly, honoring the "hide" options you've already selected over time. You can even post directly to FriendFeed by using the embedded "Share" feature, or undo likes and comments.


Making a comment in FF To Go

As the FriendFeed interface is spartan, so is FF To Go. But for most mobile phone users, this is expected. FF To Go shows three main tabs upon login, including "Friends", "Me" and "Everyone", and each option mirrors the same tabs on FriendFeed. Users can even navigate between each tabs by hitting 0, 1 or 2 on their cell phone after having logged in.

The FF To Go main screen displays the most recent 10 entries from FriendFeed, and you can take action on any of the items. Commenting on an item takes you to a quick interstitial screen with a comment box, where you make your comment, and then post to the site. It's not as smooth or Ajaxy as the real thing, but it certainly works.

Given the 10 entry limit per mobile phone screen, navigating between pages on FF To Go is also a must, using your phone's keypad. And Benjamin has made this quite simple as well, with 6 going forward a page, and 4 going back a page. Lacking the touch screen capability on the iPhone, keypad navigation is the only option, and in my experience, it works as anticipated.

Rapid development of FF To Go was made possible by the FriendFeed team's API program, enabling developers to harness data from the service to create new and interesting applications. Benjamin also explained the application was written in Django and using the Google App Engine. So why build FF To Go, instead of waiting for movement on FriendFeed's end to develop their own mobile version of the site? Benjamin says there were two major reasons:

1) There wasn't a good, existing solution that enabled active participation for most phones, instead of a static, passive view.
2) Seemingly everyone was begging for it.

As with other services that require the FriendFeed API, in order to get started, you will need to log in with your FriendFeed user name, and your remote key. Once you've logged in to the service, you've got FriendFeed, in your pocket, to go.