Off the glowing recommendation of RIMarkable Robb, I decided to install the evaluation version of Xobni. If you look at just about any top 10 BlackBerry application list, Xobni, in many cases, ranks close to the top. I am, actually, kind of shocked by this considering that, although, I see some value in Xobni, there are glaring areas where the app fails miserably. I know that Xobni is one of those applications where the value is a bit more subtle and you need to use it a few times before you really realize it’s power, however, that being said, there are areas, in my opinion, where Xobni simply doesn’t work and is unreliable.
Where Xobni Disappointed
Adding Incorrect Numbers to Contacts
Xobni collects contact information from a variety sources and publishes it to your Xobni contact list. One of the sources of this information happens to be email signatures and this is where the problem lies. In my Xobni contact list I have 40 contacts that have my phone number listed under their contact.
I have 6 contacts that have 20 or more numbers that belong to other users associated with their Xobni contact. I checked the top 10 people that send me emails and have email signatures and 9 of the 10 users have one or more of their contact numbers on another user in my Xobni contact. For me the information was so in accurate I cannot trust of Xobni’s suggested numbers. I highlighted this issue to Robb and sure enough he has the same problem, but never poked around to see it.
Ranking You as my #1 Contact
Something Xobni on the desktop does well is determining, this is you, as you can see in the image above. For example if I click on an email I sent to myself from a hotmail account to a gmail or work account it show up as this is you. For some reason on the Xobni mobile it shows me as my #1 contact. I checked and Robb saw the same result. I guess the problem here is the behavior on the desktop and mobile differ. This is a minor annoyance.
Feedback from Xobni: Ranking self as #1 contact – Ranking yourself as number 1 is not a bug, but rather a product decision.
I have some contacts I only interact with via SMS and BBM and Xobni does not look at this when determining who I most frequently communicate with. Xobni mobile is designed for the BlackBerry, and not including BBM and SMS almost seems silly. Now, I do understand that if you look at a contact, Xobni can show what SMS messages have been exchanged, but I wanted to see this as a factor that determines how they rank in my Xobni contact list. I have dozens of contacts that are exclusively communicated with via BBM or SMS. If Xobni could also understand communication that happens via Google Voice, that would be over the top. The challenge is that the view I am getting from Xobni is only partially correct on my communication patterns, with multiple methods of communication excluded (BBM, SMS, Google Voice) from ranking contacts the list is less accurate.
FeedBack from Xobni: I spoke to Xobni and the said SMS does impact the ranking of users, but several people I SMS with are not ranking yet. They did mention an issue with BlackBerry OS on CDMA phones (Spring/Verizon) so this may be impacting me. The lack of BBM Indexing is a BlackBerry limitation vs lack of desire from Xobni.
Where Xobni Delighted
Putting Faces to my Contacts
I am a strong believer in having photos on your contacts. In fact, I cannot think of a good reason not to have a photo on a contacts. The magic of Xobni is pulling images from LinkedIn and Facebook and adding to my Xobni contact list. I wish the images had also gotten added to my BlackBerry contact list, but that is more an enhancement request. I have people that work for me whom I have never physically seen, but thanks to Xobni Mobile I now have faces on those contacts. Additionally, I have hundreds of people I communicate with professionally whom I may never meet, but 40% of the time Xobni can give me a picture of that contact.
Filtered Contact View
Some people I only talk to at a particular time of the year, like quarterly, for business tasks that need to be completed. I could watch my top communication view dynamically change on my mobile to match my recent patterns. I suspect this is a value of the light integration with Xobni desktop. Via Xobni mobile I could look up Mary or Tim which are common first names but only rank in the Xobni because I am talking to them now. I have only been using Xobni for two weeks but it appears the list of frequently talked to people changes rather dynamically.
Automatically Change Send Using
Having multiple accounts on my BlackBerry (1 BES and 4 BIS) the one thing I want to avoid doing is sending emails from the wrong address. This is a classic example of how you don’t even realize what Xobni is doing for you. Xobni knows when I email Robb on his Gmail account I always do so from my gmail account so it automatically updates the send using to reflect my gmail account. For me this is a huge value as I have mistakenly sent emails from the wrong address. Mistakes like this can impact future emails people send you if their mail client retains the wrong address.
I am clearly not ready to say I love, or, even really like Xobni Mobile, however, I am not quite ready to uninstall the application either . The two week evaluation is far too short for me to draw a conclusion. I will likely purchase Xobni for my BlackBerry and continue to use over the next couple weeks until I decide if I want to keep it installed.
It appears that people who receive a large quantity of email daily find value in Xobni. In two weeks I have only scratched the surface on the product. I would consider myself a heavy email user as I receive about 200 – 300 emails daily. For now I will avoid the areas where Xobni has performed poor and enjoy helping hands it provides that are not so obvious.