Digg Launches Mobile Apps, Buttons, Widgets, and More

Posted by Chris on April 5, 2010   |   Comments:  

Let me start by saying that while I don’t make it a habit writing articles that cover every day news stories in the social media arena, on occasion I might turn out an article about social media or technology news if I personally experienced whatever it is I’m writing about or perhaps it’s just simply newsworthy. I usually spend time writing about topics that interest me personally such as the social media services I use, apps that I have the opportunity to alpha and beta test, gadgets that I use in my everyday life, and anything else that interests me. I leave the daily reporting to sites like Mashable who do a fantastic job covering social media news as it breaks as well as other topics.

With that said, I thought I would spend a few minutes writing an article about all the changes that have been going on inside Digg. For those who are not familiar with Digg, it’s a popular social news site where users discover and share content from all over the Web. Digg’s cornerstone function is voting stories up and down, also known as “Digging” and “Burying.” The most “Dugg” stories on Digg land a spot on the front page. I’ve been a loyal user of Digg for several years, but after a while I decided to stop using my Digg account and move on because I wasn’t necessarily thrilled how stories were making their way to the front page. However, over the last year I have heard about the many changes coming to Digg, therefore, I signed up for a new account back in February in hopes that when Digg “restarts” and launches Digg v4 things will be different.

So what’s been going on at Digg? Well, kicking things off at the 2010 South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in early March, Digg CEO Jay Adelson announced to the crowd that Digg was getting a major facelift. Although Adelson didn’t reveal too much information about the new design, he did mention that the new version of Digg is “five years in the making.” According to PC Magazine, some of the new features users might see include more personal feeds and allowing users to vote up stories without logging in to the site. The return of the Digg leaderboard might be another feature added to the new design as well as an increase in the overall speed of the site. Take a look at the screenshot below to get a sneak peek of the new Digg site.

A few days after Adelson’s announcement at SXSW, Digg announced on their official blog the top third party integration services they chose for their upcoming login and registration redesign. They also gave a sneak peek of the new design dialog box and explained how they chose the third party integration services. In short, Digg conducted a survey that had nearly 14,000 participants who shared the services they would like to see in the new login and registration design. Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Twitter landed the top four spots and will be included in the new design when Digg launches the new version of their site – Digg v4.

After giving users a sneak peek of the new design, Digg launched new and improved Digg buttons and a widget generator for publishers. The new buttons and widgets were launched ahead of the new version of the site to give publishers an early start on the integration process so they would have the ability to integrate their content a lot easier with the Digg ecosystem. You can see the new widget in action on this site in the column to the right under the tab titled “Digg Stories.”

Digg wasn’t done delivering good news in March. On March 23rd Digg mobile apps began to surface and the much anticipated native app for iPhone made its debut in Apple’s App Store. Within 24 hours of the app’s launch, the Digg app skyrocketed to the top spot in Apple’s App Store “News” category in several countries around the world. The news about the native iPhone app was leaked last October by founder Kevin Rose when he was interviewed during the FOWA conference in London. Although there was no official launch date confirmed for the Digg app at that time the news leaked, users were eager to get their hands on the app so it was not a surprise how well it did in the Apple Store. Nonetheless, shortly after the iPhone app made its debut, Digg made more waves in the mobile arena by launching its native app for Android which was available for download in the Android Market on April 2nd. Most Android users were excited to see an app developed for their device and couldn’t wait to starting “digging” stories.

While everything appeared to be running smooth over at Digg, CEO Jay Adelson released a surprising statement late last night saying he was stepping down as CEO, effective immediately. The news comes at a time when Digg is putting the finishing touches on their new site design, integrating third party services, and expanding their mobile efforts. In response to the news of Adelson’s split from the company, founder Kevin Rose said “I am excited to be taking on the role of Chairman and acting CEO, driving Digg forward on our promise to enable social curation of the world’s content and the conversation around it” and that he was “truly excited about the next five years, big things coming!” According to a blog post written today by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, it appears that despite the official statements released by both Jay and Kevin, there was tension at Digg between the two which ultimately led to Adelson stepping down as CEO. Regardless of what transpired behind the scenes, Kevin Rose is back at Digg full-time and the company’s future falls squarely on his shoulders now.

It didn’t take long for Kevin Rose to take the reins and make his first major announcement as Chairman and acting CEO of Digg. Earlier this evening Kevin said in a blog post that the controversial DiggBar ”is bad for the Internet,” and that “it causes confusion when bookmarking, breaks w/iFrame busters, and has no ability to communicate with the lower frame (if you browse away from a story, the old digg count still persists),” therefore “killing it when we launch the new Digg.” Kevin also went on to say that “with the launch of the new Digg will be unbanning all previously banned domains.” It has been reported that Kevin is not happy with the way Digg v4 is coming along so there are drastic changes being made which will more than likely delay its launch even further. I think we could all agree that Kevin Rose is the face of Digg and without his vision and direction the company would not be as successful as it has become today, but replacing Jay Adelson is not going to be an easy task especially since Kevin will always be “the guy” at Digg.

So now that iPhone and Android users are enjoying the Digg experience on their devices, is there an app being developed for BlackBerry? I don’t expect Digg to leak this information so that remains to be seen, but it sure would be nice if they could make this a reality. After all, Research In Motion (RIM), developer of BlackBerry smartphones, holds 42.1% of the smartphone platform market share according to a recent survey conducted by comScore. In a press released today, comScore mentioned that the “Use of social media via mobile device continues to post strong gains.“ Therefore, I believe it’s in Digg’s best interest to develop a BlackBerry app so we can start “digging” too. Let’s make it happen, Kevin.

As most Digg users know, Digg has come under fire and been criticized over the years for several things which ultimately led to some people, myself included, looking for alternative social news sites. For example, in early 2007 rumors started to circulate throughout the Digg community regarding a certain group of Digg users, referred to as the “Bury Brigade,” that buried stories they found ideologically unappealing. Just to be clear, I’m not claiming they the Bury Brigade is a group of Digg users necessarily working together as in a concerted effort. Instead, it is simply a group of Digg users who have similar burying habits – usually burying content in which they disagree. It seemed quite simple at the time to oust a popular post with just a few buries, therefore, it was not worth it for some people to waste their time submitting and digging posts on Digg anymore. In 2008, approximately one year later, TechCrunch wrote an article voicing similar concerns about “super users who can single handedly bury stories on Digg.” Many Digg users were simply angry after reading the article while others just decided to stop using the social news service. Nonetheless, there have been some changes since all this happened, but there are still issues at Digg that must be addressed as they move forward, but it looks like they might be headed in the right direction.

So now it’s 2010 and as I mentioned I am back at Digg giving the site another shot in hopes that the new algorithm, interface, mobile features, and community will provide a great experience for all users – not just those who have hidden agendas. While Digg has been working feverously behind the scenes to bring users the best content from across the Web at blazing speeds, the jury is still out and I can only hope that Kevin and the Digg crew get it right. When the new Digg launches you might want to give it a try because you might just be impressed.

“Savy