I took a stroll down the startup and "battle" aisles at TechCrunch Disrupt this week. The startups were largely focused on social media plays, though not to exclusion, and surprisingly not all of the had associated apps for mobile devices. That said, there were definitely some to keep an eye on. The "battle" aisle was for companies involved in Disrupt's daily battles, where companies with somewhat similar services duked it out on stage in front of a panel of judges. In some cases we'll have deeper reviews of the apps described below, so stay tuned.
Do@ - iOS app, free
This oddly named app is an ingenious new mobile search engine that was highly regarded at Disrupt. By using your social graph to influence results and pulling results from a variety of sites pertinent to what you're looking for, I was impressed with the overall relevance of searches.
For example, by searching "inception @movies" you are presented with web view pages around the movie inception. Pages from IMDB, Fandango, Wikipedia and more are shown clearly and you can swipe between them. If one of your friends happens to like Fandango, or if you happen to, it will show up before the others. A neat trick, although I'm anxious to see how it plays out in day to day use.
SpotOn - iOS app, free
Currently only available in New York, SpotOn is like FourSquare but influenced by your friends. It pulls in data from your social graph on Facebook and Foursquare and offers suggestions for things to do (places to see, where to eat and so on). Until it rolls out wider it'll be hard to gauge how useful this will be, but I do see the potential. Instead of having to go to Facebook and look at an event and scroll through attendees to see if your friends are attending, SpotOn saves time by showing you, say, an event going on nearby later that night that your friends are attending. It's everything Foursquare's guides could be, limited to your social circle and with a very direct purpose.
Spenz - iOS app, free
Similar to Mint, Spenz wants to show you what you've been spending your money on. Unlike Mint, the app doesn't pull info from a bunch of places, it asks you to input that data. Of course, there are bunches of apps like that in the store, but Spenz has some nice features built in that I've never seen before.
For example, Spenz will note that you go to Starbucks in the morning and input an amount for coffee. When you go to input how much you spend in the morning, the "coffee" tag will be further up top than it will be in the evening. Makes sense, right? There are several little touches like that baked in to the app, making it easier to enter your data than most of the budgeting apps you'll see out there.
Plus, Spenz has a website component, and every time you input your data it is pushed to the site where you can track your spending there. We'll have a deeper review later, as the Spenz founder let me in on some powerful features coming soon.
GameBuilder Studio - Mac app, currently in limited beta
I spoke to founder and CEO Lavon Woods about GameBuilder Studio as it reminded me of ColdStone, an abandoned Mac OS game-builder application from many years ago. GameBuilder, when publicly available, will produce games across a variety of platforms (yes, Mac and iOS) and runs on Mac, Windows and Linux machines. It isn't Unity, however. These games are two-dimensional, but I was impressed with the interface and workflow.
GameBuilder will build side scrollers, isometric games and more, but again, in 2D. Woods told me the studio will be free to download, but there will be licensing for developers who wish to deploy their games, with the cost varying. We'll check in when this is publicly available and report back, but the game design geek in me liked what he saw.
Tomorrow I'll have another roundup of startups seen at Disrupt.