G-SNAP – Mobile Social Datacasting

G-SNAP! is a new social network based around live updates from events. Users create “SnapCasts” which are channels dedicated to a particular a sporting event, concert, conference or  live news event.

NCAA Football Championship - G-SNAP! Mobile

The person who created the SnapCast posts updates in the form of  text, photos and  videos.  SnapCasts are public, anyone can view a SnapCast and any registered G-SNAP! user can add comments to it.  SnapCasts remind me of Twittter hashtags but with multimedia  integration. They also have two features especially relevant to live event reporting, Snapshots and  the Clock.  The Snapshot is like a status message.  It appears at the top of the SnapCast and is intended to be used for important information like the current score of a game or the name of who is currently speaking at a conference.  The clock is a game clock, it can be started and stopped by the user who created the SnapCast.  Each SnapCast has it’s own short url. For  example, the Aviation Nation airshow SnapCast is at gsnap.com/318 and the NCAA national championship football game is  gsnap.com/391.

On the PC, G-SNAP! has an Ajax interface based around Yahoo’s YUI library.  It features separate scrolling lists for updates and comments with the static Snapshot and Clock  at the top. The mobile version of gSnap is a simpler “one size fits all phones” non scrolling design.  Mobile browsers are automatically redirected to it.  There doesn’t seem to be any way to view the mobile site on a PC or the PC site on a phone unfortunately.  SnapCasts on mobile are text only with links to images and videos.

The mobile G-SNAP! site lets you search for, view and comment on SnapCasts or create your own.  Text updates and comments can be entered in the browser but images and videos must be uploaded by email.

G-SNAP! Aviation Nation SnapCast

Updates and comments are aggressively paginated six to a page on G-SNAP! Mobile.  The pagination and lack of images keeps page size down to a mere 9 KB so G-SNAP! should work on even the most basic phones.  However,  users of more advanced devices will undoubtedly wish for in-line images and more updates and comments per page.  Given the small page size which seems optimized for basic phones and slow networks, I’m a little surprised that the image links in G-SNAP! Mobile go to 515 px wide images averaging 40 KB.  This is too large for many phones.  The desktop version of G-SNAP! uses 144 px wide in-line thumbnails.  If the mobile version linked to the smaller thumbnail images,with perhaps an option to “view full size image”,  it would be possible to view the images on almost all handsets. Videos are reformatted to 176×144 px and average around 400 KB.  The size and resolution is compatible with most video capable phones although G-SNAP! is using an obscure CDMA audio codec called QCLEP.  My N95-3 can play the SnapCast videos but not the audio portion.

It’s good to see that mobile support is a part of G-SNAP! from the start. I’d like to see G-SNAP! enhance the mobile side of the service with better image handling, variable pagination based on device capabilites and direct upload of images and videos using browse for file.

G-SNAP! is a fairly original concept and it seems to be getting some traction with about 400 SnapCasts posted so far including some mobile events like an interview with Google’s Rich Miner from around the time when the  G1 was launched and a couple of CES presentations. Source: George Drapeau’s Weblog

Filed in: Wap Review Directory – Technology/Mobile/Mobile Social

Ratings: Content: ***** Usability: XXXX_

Ready.mobi Score: 4 “Good”

Mobile Link: gsnap.com

11 thoughts on “G-SNAP – Mobile Social Datacasting

  1. I am a huge fan of G-Snap and find myself on there almost every weekend. What better way to communicate with fellow fans during a game? I have both been a snapcaster and a participant. The best part? If you have any issues they actually listen to you and make changes accordingly, very cool!

  2. I am a big fan of G-SNAP and have used it both as a snapcaster as well as an active participant on other people’s snapcasts. It is a great service and has so many uses that go way beyond sporting events! I personally have used it to snapcast a trip to Germany as well as a live interactive microblog of last year’s Academy Awards. In addition, I used it join in and comment on two of the 2008 presidential debates via my mobile phone! Good good stuff that will be HUGE once more people start hearing about and utilizing it!

  3. I have done two snapcasts of boxing matches that were not publicly available without the payment of quite a fee. The usual way to handle that is to invite people over to watch the match with me. But for those who live far away, snapcasing it an alternative.

    As I watched the match, I keyed in a running description of the fight and anyone in the world who knew about my snapcast (and who also had the link to it) could read and even comment on my snapcast. Thus, people occupied with other things could still be in contact with that particular boxing match by glancing at their cell phone or PCs, whichever was their choice for reception. Snapcasting also allows someone watching the event on a cell phone or PC to submit an inquiry about something that may not have been covered. I got several during my snapcasts but the pressure and dtempo of a boxign match does not allow extensive replies. I did the best I could.

    In a month, I will be delivering a lecuture at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Califonria. It will be snapcast by someone else, with the same intent; i.e., anyone who wants to be logically present at the event need only have the link and the time of the snapcast. The talk is about Mozart portraiture, which is a far distance from boxing.

  4. A fix is out that addresses the login issue and invalid entities (it was a build issue that caused the errors). Definitely our miss but it’s fixed. Thanks for the catch.

  5. @Naiyer,

    I got the 502 trying to register on mobile too. I agree the markup is pretty bad too, invalid entities, unclosed tags, yuck.

    It didn’t fail on my test phones which are pretty forgiving of xml errors if the page is sent with a text/html mime type as gSnap’s are. I guess I need to start testing on an older S40 in addition to Opera, Openwave and WebKit.

    It’s really not that hard to write valid markup. In my world, mobile pages that don’t validate are a QA FAIL. Validation is an important determinant of cross browser compatibility.

  6. I’ve had fun on the handful of Snapcasts I’ve been a part of. I’ve used it exclusively on my Crackberry curve. Good Stuff.

  7. I did not like the UI of G-SNAP! on mobile.It has got markup errors which pose troubles on legacy phones that support only XHTML.The use of tables makes the site look more cluttered.

    I tried to sign up on mobile and the login form constantly slapped 502 for me.I would suggest a user-interface similar to Pownce would be very nice (I miss Pownce since it is dead now).And even better,if they incorporate some graphics and valid markup.

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  9. Dennis,

    Hello there! My name is Ramsey Ksar and I’m the Sr. Director of Product Management for G-SNAP!. I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say thanks for the thorough write-up! If you or any of your readers have any questions, I’m here to help.

    FYI, this week we introduced a slew of new features including the ability to embed a Snapcast into a website or blog as well new moderation features designed to help a Snapcaster control the quality of their Snapcast (we’ve initially launched these for the web version but mobile is coming very soon). Of course, there are additional enhancements underway (including a completely new UI) so stay tuned!

    Thanks again,


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