Context: the stunning Opera Mini, iGoogle and the GMail mobile client give us pretty much everything we need on the road: Search, WordPress, FaceBook and email. And Opera Mini does a fair job of managing our RSS life as well. So when Refresh Mobile invited us to come and check out their new mobile midware thingie, touted as ‘a window to the mobile internet’, we were interested to see what more we could be convinced we need. Due to London transport, we didn’t make it to the demo, but we’ve spent the evening messin’ with their product instead. Here are our first thoughts.
Mippin (dreadful name, kids, and the default colour scheme sucks: change it, purleeze!) is a WAP 2.0 social RSS aggregator and news reader for mobiles, with aspirations to greater things, from the people who brought us Mobizines (yes indeed).
On the couple of native phone browsers we tried, as well as an online WAP emulator, and Opera Mini, it all worked as expected: type in the URL of an RSS-enabled site, and off you go. No RSS? Too bad: at this point Mippin only works with feeds. Oops. And the press release is relentless is calling potential subscribers consumers. Get with the program, kids: we aren’t consumers, we’re multipliers, damn it — flatter our egos and we’ll give you a bit more slack on the features and functionality!
Anyway. Sign up, and you get a Mippin profile preloaded with a bunch of the usual-suspect blogs, in categories including Men and LifeStyle (LifeStyle, interestingly, seems to be mostly ‘girl stuff’ — don’t Men also have LifeStyles? Not online, it seems). There’s no indication as to whether those categories are static, or dynamically-generated based on Mippin users’ usage patterns and interactions. After experiencing the subtle magic of FaceBook’s filtering systems (‘A friend of a friend who you often email has posted an event in a category of events invitations which you usually accept, so I’ll tell you about it’), we’re kind of hoping that Mippin has some collaborative filtering magic behind the curtain as well. If so, the press release is keeping schtum on that whole area. Mippin does, however, make it easy to text, twitter (do people really use twitter — real people I mean?) or email stories to friends, and encourages readers to vote sites up or down in popularity. All a bit 1.0, but better than nothing, we guess. And Mippin is still in beta.
But, we’re left feeling a bit whatever. Mippin is a decent WAP-based RSS aggregator, with a bit of a social media flavour thrown in for the kids. And it adapts well to the capabilities of the different handsets we tried it on, without the need for any installs. If you’ve got a WAP-only phone and need a news fix, Mippin might be a must-have as-is. For the rest of us, I guess it’s wait-and-see on what emerges as the beta progresses. To us, it all currently feels akin to an open source project a few months prior to it being Slashdot-worthy. Refresh promises to listen to community feedback: we say try it out, and let them know your thoughts. If they’re serious about that, your feedback might be just what Mippin needs to shine.