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Amazing iPhone App Review Underscores Color's Awful Launch

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It had massive media coverage and $41 million in funding. Folks said it would redefine mobile social networking. Some claimed it could usurp Facebook and Twitter to become one of the sleekest, most clever way to connect with those around you.

And once it was released and the public got a look at it, like the Segway, it was laughed out of contention.

Color -- the cross-platform app which allows users to share recently snapped photos with others in their vicinity -- had a solid idea behind it. Similar to Twitter, user content is automatically public and ready to share. But rather than sharing photos with those who figuratively "follow" you, they're shared with those who literally follow you. Anyone in your vicinity -- in this version, within 150 feet -- would be able to view your photos. Party photos, for example, would be instantly shared with everyone in the apartment.

It's an interesting concept, one with much promise and room to grow. But too bad the app was rushed to market before an adequate amount of R&D and beta-testing could be performed.

I tested the app last week on my Motorola Droid. Not only did it crash my device, I couldn't even power off the phone to get it to stop! Every button -- including power -- was rendered useless as Color just hung there, frozen. Eventually, after several minutes, I managed to make my way to Settings and immediately uninstall it.

But before the app induced a heart attack on my Droid, I was baffled as to how the development team behind Color could believe this was an adequate, user-friendly interface. Icons and layouts had no intuitive feel. I poked around at random, hoping to get some idea as to how the app was operated. But what did the clock mean? What did those concentric circles stand for? I understood that the app would have little purpose unless other people in my vicinity were also using it, but this was just plain inoperable.

Not for a lack of users. It just didn't make sense.

Apparently sensing a backlash -- and if they saw the reviews in the App Store and Android Market, it's not surprising -- the development team went back to the drawing board. CEO Bill Nguyen told Mashable that people would feel "lonely" if they're using the app by themselves. "Otherwise," Nguyen said, "it's going to make no sense."

But that's only a fraction of the problem, Bill. You need to fix the layout. You need to make the icons more clear. You need an UI overhaul.

And, if you get the chance, you gotta keep the app from stabbing a person's smartphone in the heart.

I'm not alone in the assessment. BoingBoing came across an App Store review of Color by a user named Ghostmoth. He had a similar experience after installing the app, but went into much more colorful detail.

And unlike Color, it is truly a wonder to experience.

POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.