Getting things scheduled isn’t productivity. Getting them all done at the right time is. I do have a scheduling system to keep up with all of my blogging assignments for a couple weeks at a stretch. I rarely get them all done on time, but at least the schedule and the bleeding number of things that rollover to the next day everytime I miss working pushes me to put some more effort.
So a demanding boss, a nagging secretary, or a paycheck forces us to maintain a schedule for our professional life. But what happens to your personal and social commitments? Usually they get pushed aside to make way for the sake of a career. Of late, I have been trying to find work-life balance and I found feedCal. The web app automatically takes your social feeds and puts them in your calendar. Join me as I evaluate if the web app can help me be more social.
With the help of their unique social scheduling engine, feedCal goes through your Facebook and Twitter feeds, picking out the ones related to events and automatically adds them to your Google Calendar. Sounds nifty, right? It actually is. The app is currently in open beta and you will have to use your Google account to sign up with the app.
Even though the app has a prominently placed Pricing page, all the plans are currently free. Three are three different plans – for Twitter, Facebook and both. Guess the developers are waiting for an opportune moment to start charging for the app. In my opinion, the tiered pricing for each of the social networks and both of them is a great idea and should be an instant hit if priced right.
Ease of Use
The sign up process wasn’t one click as I expected, but it is understandable that we need to integrate the social networks in a few more steps. As soon as I selected the social network I wished to connect to, the web app disclosed that there are few more steps before gaining access to the app.
First 1000 registered users of the app are promised free accounts (free even when the app goes premium). But how will people know if they are among the 1000 or not? Facebook integration happens via OAuth and for Twitter integration all they need is your account name.
There are a few fields too many in the form but thankfully the app instantly checks if the values you have added are valid or not. At the end of all this data collection, you get to choose if you are interested in receiving updates from the dev team or not. It’s a laudable practice and they should be appreciated for getting the consent of the user upfront, instead of sneaking in mails with an unsubscribe option in fine print.
A smiley face indicating that all is well is a nice touch but I didn’t realise that I would lose the smile on my face shortly after!
Handling the App
Since we have all been accustomed to a landing page or a redirect to the dashboard or atleast an activation email with a proper link to the app, I was a bit perplexed to see that nothing of that sort happened after completing the sign up.
I switched browsers and tried to login but couldn’t find a way to login to the app. So there I was scratching my head not knowing what to do. I went ahead and read their copy and now I understood (vaguely) what they meant by seamless.
feedCal is an app without an actual user interface (or in it’s current form). It’s invisible to the naked eye and immediately after signing up, your job is done. The app then automatically updates your Google Calendar with all the event schedules. It’s alright they don’t have an interface to work with, but the app definitely needs a landing page explaining users that their job is done. People aren’t patient enough to read the copy multiple times and infer everything on their own.
Using Google Calendar
I really didn’t have a great time with the Google Calender integration as well. The pricing page informs everyone that updates will happen either every 5 or 10 minutes based on the plan you choose. However this wasn’t the case in practice. After waiting for about thirty minutes, I tweeted the developer for help. Then a few minutes later, like magic the events started showing up!
The events are added directly to the default calendar and thankfully aren’t tucked away in a separate calendar. This seamless integration made most of the shortcomings of the app go away. Except for the references to a date or day, rest of the message shows up in its entirety in the calendar. Once you have an event on schedule, it can be updated just like any other entry in the Google Calendar.
Since all events are mostly scheduled on Facebook these days, a social scheduling calender is hardly an app that will be of use to everyone. But if you have a lot of social interactions over Twitter or looking forward to make Google Calender your destination for all schedules, feedCal should be your go to app. Just like the developers, I too believe it’s time we asked the question - isn’t it time to schedule our social life too?
Share Your Thoughts!
How do you balance your work and life schedules at present? Think feedCal will find a place in your bookmarks?