With the never-ending search for innovation comes a constant stream of new technologies and software. While this can be overwhelming, the exchange of creative ideas, collaboration, and bringing ideas to life is what Macadamian thrives on. Macadamian’s Trendy app is a great example of this.
From a simple “what if,” Trendy evolved from a Twitter analytics prototype specific to March Madness into a fully-designed and functioning consumer app available to download on the Windows Store. This side project became a platform where Macadamian’s development and UX teams were able to test their skills while experimenting with the latest technologies and software.
From the Prototype: NCAA Twitter Data Analytics
With the intent of trying out and showcasing Windows Azure, we saw an opportunity to prototype a mobile app for basketball fans that followed the NCAA March Madness Tournament. As a game approached, Twitter activity would spike with hashtags around teams, players, and all the March Madness events. This meant lots of data being collected which could be stored, analyzed, and manipulated with the use of Azure. So, we put together a quick prototype application called Mac Madness that demonstrated the ebb and flow of various hashtags associated with March Madness.
To a Product: Twitter Data Analytics
By the time we had a chance to take a second look, it was the end of March Madness 2014 and the Connecticut Huskies had been crowned as champions. Not wanting to abandon this project, we refocused the app’s concept to something more universal. Inspired by Twitter’s list of current trends, we applied the concepts introduced from March Madness to create histograms of Twitter’s top trends to visualize the data to easily compare, analyze, and discover new insights.
However, with the much larger scope of tweets came a set of challenges that required a more flexible data analytic and better optimization for computation to ensure that the data is analyzed in a responsive manner. The most notable challenges were the following:
- Trends last for varying duration’s. (Some can last days while some can last less than an hour.)
- Trends now have a greater number of tweets at all times, whereas trend variation and number of tweets tracked were fewer with March Madness.
Moving most of the Twitter interaction to Azure Mobile Services offered delegation of responsibility in the application’s architecture. The cloud’s responsibility is to periodically mine Twitter for data and analyze it. Azure Mobile Services seamlessly collects the data, crunches numbers, and formats the data into something presentable for a histogram.
With this architecture, the client’s sole responsibility is boiled down to presenting that data in a creative way. The end result offers improved experience for users:
- The client does not have to constantly poll twitter for data in the background.
- The client does not have to do any data analysis.
- Both imply saving a mobile device’s battery life.
- The client does not need a Twitter account to compute this data.
Trendy already provides a great proof-of-concept for Twitter data analytics. Who knew One Direction would trend so much! Moving forward, we plan to inject the application with more context. Which tweet was retweeted hundreds of thousands of times today? Why was it retweeted so much? What’s the story behind this trend? Where and when did it start trending?
The application is currently available for Windows Phone devices and is being ported to other platforms including Android and iOS using Xamarin’s development tools. This allows code sharing between the platforms.
You can download today the current version of Trendy from the Windows Phone Store.