Feeds have evolved into a popular means of sharing content between sites and are now going mainstream as more people become aware of the benefits. The use of feeds to syndicate content to mobile devices is also increasing — placing a much needed focus on the quality and usefulness of the information contained in those feeds.
Case in point are event feeds. While greatly useful from the desktop, they usually fail from the mobiles user’s perspective because 1) the feed requires you to link off to content that is not optimized for mobile devices or 2) critical information is missing from the feed — either way the mobile experience becomes a dead end.
Thanks to Andy and Gordon over at Upcoming, WINKsite is now able to go beyond the limits of basic event feed publishing to deliver a more relevant, more precise means of mobile event distribution and device independent delivery.
Let me explain, while mobilizing the Metroblogging Network’s blog and event feeds we connected with the Upcoming team. We explained to them the challenges to mobile users as we understand them to be as well as our thoughts as to how the mobile experience could be improved. They listened.
After several emails passing ideas and specs back and forth, Upcoming modified their feeds with mobile users in mind (within 24 hours mind you.) Each Upcoming feed now contains additional information such as an event’s start date/time, venue name, location, and phone number (utilizing xCal extensions.) In addition, various URL parameters are now available providing various sorting and count options. Using these extensions, Winksite was able to intelligently display various event information in our mobile UI as well as make those data (phone numbers for example) actionable. The mobile goodness doesn’t end there. These feed additions also will allow us to build other web services around these data. For example, Upcoming event feeds with Yahoo! Weather, Yahoo! Traffic, and direction feeds/APIs can now be mashed up to support a more useful and productive mobile experience.
More soon on additional ways Winksite is working with partners to make feeds “Mobile-Friendly.”