You may have heard of Microsoft Vine – a new service from Microsoft. When it was announced there was a lot of confusion about what it actually did (and I guess having a service that actually does something (and you knowing what that something is) is quite important if you wish to use it). It seemed to be a cross between Facebook and Twitter, all managed from a desktop application (many asked why they needed a desktop application to do what they already do). Oh, and it promised to save the world.
Well Microsoft have began sending invites out, so I was able to download Vine and see what exactly it does, and if it does it well. First impressions – weird setup process: download an exe that just opens my web browser and points me to an MSI which I manually have to download and run. After that the install process when smoothly, more or less as you’d expect an install to run.
Firing up the app… first thought is: I’m sure Microsoft have said they want to try and reduce the number of tray notifications users get… then they add one to Vine telling me… that it’s Vine (and this wasn’t some first run thing either… happens every times):
So, once the app’s open what does it look like? Very glassy… I like!
Time to start poking about. The map is virtual earth with some kind of localised news feed added – you can also have areal photography instead of the map:
(only appears when you mouse over the upper left of the map)
Note the dropdown for easy selection of places (I’ve also turned on satellite imagery for this one):
News feeds seem to only be for the US at the moment…. and the news is hardly monumental (the worst dissaster at the moment is that AT&T are “mulling cheaper plans for the iPhone” in Birmingham Alabama. Better hurry up with “Pink” Microsoft!
(also, note the balloons are a little off… first bug I’ve found so far… :p)
When you add places you can set Vine to alert you to all news items in a certain radius (although we don’t have news in the UK yet):
The star is me and the big blob is the stuff close enough that I care (customisable)
Next up we have the “Vitals” screen – Where you can add various personal bits of info, link to your social networking sites etc. Seems phone integration doesn’t work outside the US yet either, because my perfectly valid UK mobile number keeps being rejected as an “invalid phone number” with and without country code (anyone know what the international dial code for the US is… I could add that on the front and try again):
The pin is basically a way of stopping someone sending fake emails – even if they fake your email address (easy enough) they have to know your pin to be able to send an alert to Vine.
We have the places screen that allows you to see all the places you care about (see if AT&T are going to lower iPhone prices near your home too :p), and manage them. No, I don’t live in Redmond, so please don’t go there to stalk me:
Finally we have the people screen (this is supposed to be the really important one right…?). I tried to add a contact but when I got the invitation email it only brought me to the beta invite request page so I won’t be able to test the rest of the feature properly just yet:
So now the touted features… alerts and reports. Having no contacts I was unable to send either of these – but you can see what I could have done (I had to smile at the “In an emergency dial 911” – reminded me of the IT Crowd):
An “Alert” I think this is supposed to be a call for help;
A “Report” I think this is supposed to be a kind of general “Yoohoo, I’m still here” message.
The types of report you can send:
I’m still not convinced how much this is better than just phoning your parents/spouse/pet monster/whatever and asking for help… but it uses teh internetz… so it must be better!
Other stuff? erm… that search box you can see at the bottom of the window just loads Live Search in a browser… that could probably be lost from the application without much hurt…
Oh and check in my report above… unfortunately the Wizard of Oz remains unable to use Vine as “Somewhere over the rainbow” is not considered a valid address
Also you can print out a card to stick in your wallet to remind you that rather than emailing your parents you can get Microsoft to do it for you!
That’s all folks… so long!