Satisfy Your Social Media Appetite with Screenfeeder

By David Knight |

You know that guy who spends entire meetings staring at his phone or iPad, totally engrossed in his device and seemingly oblivious to conversation around him? If you don’t know that guy, then you probably ARE that guy – but fear not, because there’s a new and much easier way of staying in touch online.

Developed by the team behind SoundCloud’s awesome iOS app, Screenfeeder aggregates your feeds from Twitter, Instagram, Dribble and Foursquare, showing each new entry in a full screen display as they appear.

It has been released in the App Store around the world today with the stated goal of displaying ‘events’ from your favourite services in a beautiful and easy way. Gernot Poetsch of nxtbgthng, which created Screenfeeder alongside Edenspiekermann, gave Silicon Allee a sneak preview of the app a day before its release.

First impressions are good – it’s a simple concept, really, with ‘events’ from Twitter, Foursquare, Dribble and Instagram flicking across the screen every few seconds. With tweets, which will surely make up the majority of these events for most users, it’s easy to tell at first glance who has written them, not least because the background image is the same as the user’s on Twitter.

How the app looks on the iPhone

A check in by a Foursquare friend will be laid over a map of where they are, with the level of zoom dependent on their proximity, allowing you to easily tell when someone is nearby. Instagram events show new pictures in the centre of screen with the same image enlarged as a background. They can then be easily opened in the browser. A similar process happens for Dribble.

You can flick through by scrolling across – the app always covers the full screen – and double tapping will take you straight to the latest event. The so-called ‘Settings Monster’ can be programmed to warn when you are not connected to wifi or, most importantly with an app which overrides a device’s sleep settings thus leaving it constantly on, if the power cord is not plugged in.

The functionality is great, then, but Gernot said that the key feature is how up to date the app is – it uses the Twitter real time engine, for example, which means tweets usually appear even before they would through a push notification.

He said: “Everything here is optimised for being consumed very quickly. You just glance over to your iPhone or your iPad where you can see this content. You can read it in three seconds and then go back to your work; you don’t have to scroll through a long list. It’s very practical during meetings, conferences or whatever, or just breaking that cycle of having to check these different apps all the time; the ones where, when you’re done checking, you start from the beginning again.”

Updating and Not Catching Up

Gernot promised that more services will be added in future to the four original ones the app – which costs $1.99 in the US and €1.59 in Germany – is starting out with. But he also said that it can make use of idle screens: “Another use case is that you can attach external displays to the app. So it makes full use of HDTV, with 720p, 1080p or whatever, and the Apple TV. Because we think of all those TVs hanging around in offices or Twitter walls at conferences, these kinds of displays, will not be powered by real computers any more. I think they will begin to transition quite fast to devices like the Apple TV.”

Screenfeeder began as a side project at nxtbgthng 18 months ago before being dropped as the SoundCloud app started looming large. It was resurrected last year alongside Edenspiekermann, however, with nxtbgthng wanting to create an app of its own alongside the work it does for clients. Ultimately, it was important for everyone concerned to be original – and Gernot feels they have achieved that if you consider the competition.

He added: “What we do is we try to get the updating process right and not the catch up process; you have to divide those two things. When you wake up in the morning and want to see what you have been missing during the night, there are great apps for that which allow you to scroll through. But Screenfeeder keeps you up to date without you having to check your phone every five minutes, because it acts like a window into the world. There’s not so many applications out there that do that.”

The other side of that particular coin, according to Gernot, is that they have no idea how the app will perform as there is nothing on the market with which to compare it. Not the worst problem for an app developer to have, that’s for sure.