I was thrilled to discover the new TEDTalks app for my iPad this morning, and quickly installed and liked much of the experience. There they are, over 700 amazing Talks to listen to. This is particularly sweet for me as I watch a TEDTalk on my iPad virtually every morning whilst on the bus to the office, currently obtained through the suboptimal process of subscribing to the podcast in iTunes, and syncing to the iPad. And if I may slide for a moment here, I can’t believe in 2010 there’s still anything that has to “sync” via a wire. But I digress, back to TED.
In just a few minutes of use I quickly realized the app was content-rich, but not feature-rich. While the “Inspire Me” feature is extremely well done (it’s all about length of video – this is a key realization most entertainment/content people need to clue in on), I felt it was otherwise a little flat. In fact, it’s not going to be very useful for my personal needs, and I’m concerned that’ll be true for others as well. So in my support of TED, and by the way – I genuinely believe that if all people watched TED Talks the world would actually be a better place – I thought I’d quickly jot out the notes to make it better for users such as myself.
- Add search
The browse works great, but there’s no search. So when I see a tweet from a friend about a given TED Talk, I can’t find it without browsing for it. And, to boot, I need to know the category/tag that applies to the talk to find it. While we’re at it, make search by keyword and author too.
- Add alphabetical browsing
Per above, at present you need to know how the Talk is categorized to find it. Personally, I’d like to find something just by browsing a list of titles.
- Add sharing features
At the end of virtually every TEDTalk, I want to share it with someone, whether a peer, my team, a friend or family member, or the entire world on Twitter. Add simple “tweet this” and “like this” and “email a link to this” TEDTalk to every clip. Also, the link should probably share the YouTube or TED.com version of the clip.
- Add a history/watched list
Once I’ve watched a few dozen videos, I find it hard to remember if I’ve seen one, or hard to remember the exact title of one if I want to reshare it. A simple history feature is essential. And in the would-be-nice category? Show me “You Watched this on MMDDYY” on the video preview page if I come back to it. Also, add a “mark viewed” feature along the way, in case I’ve watched the Talk on another platform.
- Incorporate social features
Since everyone’s busy “liking” everything else via Facebook these days, would be great to see in a video profile page that friends of mine have liked something.
- Add download controls
Once I begin a download, there appears no way to delete the download, queue for later, or otherwise manage whats going on.
- Add more “cool views”
Timelines. Maps. Duration. etc.
- Integrate with other platforms
There’s the TED site, YouTube, the iPad app, a forthcoming iPhone app, a Boxee app, the iTunes podcast, and I’m sure more to come. Assume I am using more than one method to consume the content, then allow me to integrate from one to the other. In other words, let me favorite something on your site, then see that on my iPad app.
I think the “1.0″ version of the app is probably pretty decent for most people. If you have even a few free minutes and an Internet connection and want to get inspired, this app will certainly do the trick. Hopefully these ideas can help inspire team TED to take it just a bit further!