Matt Hancock MP Launches App To Bemusement Of General Public

Matt Hancock – some people know him, some people don’t – he’s the current Digital, Culture, Media & Sport secretary of the United Kingdom and forms part of Her Majesty’s Government.

His department is the former Culture, Media & Sport department and in an effort to show that he considers ‘Digital’ an important part of his role, he’s embraced the world of digital and employed a development agency to make an app.  A phone app.  An app you can use on your tablets.  An app all about…

Matt Hancock

Introducing the new ‘Matt Hancock’ app!  To quote an early adopter, Robert Hutton, “it’s like having an actual Matt Hancock in the palm of your hand!”.

Stills are from the intro video that you are greeted with after first launching the Matt Hancock app.  The purported aim of the app is to engage with his local constituents in West Suffolk but, needless to say, in a matter of days, Matt Hancock has gone global.  OK, global *may* be a slight exaggeration but he’s certainly gone national.  Absolutely further than West Suffolk.

Although no, I’ve not personally joined the Matt Hancock revolution yet.

What’s It All About?

Well, leaving connecting with constituents to one side, it’s social media, kind of Facebook-esque (old world, not current!) and people can be social with each other.

But… rather than having Mark Zuckerberg to idolise like a god you have Matt Hancock.  Matt Hancock has put himself all over the app.  You can check in on what Matt Hancock is currently doing.  Look at what he’s having for tea.  Have a look at the latest selfie he’s taken.

But, it’s not a vanity project… honest!

Who Are The People Using It?

Good question – at the moment, journalists have jumped all over.  Also, Matt Hancock seems to have a lot of ‘fans’ that have also joined up.  Also, following his new found fame with the launch of the eponymous app, a whole cross section of society appear to have signed up.  International take up appears low at this time, but it’s early days.

Whilst users of the worlds biggest social networking site Facebook are sometimes unofficially known as ‘Facebookers’ or ‘Zuckers’, following on in a similar fashion, users of Matt Hancock are affectionately (yet unofficially, as far as we know) known as ‘Mancocks’ or just ‘cocks’ for short (hence the 17+ app rating).

What’s Not To Like?

Well, not much I guess.

The department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which oversees the Information Commissioners Office, stresses the importance of app developers following it’s official guidance for privacy in mobile apps.

Seems developers Disciple Media may not have got the memo though.

Given the recent debacle surrounding allegedly “handsy” MP’s, Matt Hancock sure wants to get his hands on your data:

But, at least he asks.

Will Matt Hancock overtake Facebook?  Only time can tell.

For now, we’ll leave you with Matt Hancock singing ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ in the style of Queen – enjoy!

SongPop – The New Addiction on Facebook and How To Get More Games!

SongPop Logo

A couple of days ago, our regulars will remember that we posted an article regarding SongPop, the new Facebook social media music trivia game!  We’ve been evaluating it for a while no and we’ve got to agree that it is definitely addictive!  And from the number of people that we see playing it at all times of the day (presumably while some of them should be working!), we can quite confidently say that its heading to be (if not already) one of the most popular games on Facebook.

The Zuck’s Recommendation

SongPop’s popularity was greatly increased when it received a recommendation from none other that the Facebook founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who said “Song Pop is one of the most fun Facebook games I’ve played in a while”.  And we tend to agree with him!!!

More Popular Than Draw Something?

Not only that, an article in the Guardian last month said that SongPop could overtake the other fans favourite Draw Something within a month (which is round about now! ;)).

The Two Versions…

So there’s two versions.  On the App Store anyway.  Is there two on Facebook?  Can’t remember seeing two or how that would be implemented…. but anyway I digress!

There’s two versions, a free version and a premium version.

So, what’s the difference?  Well the free version, is err….. free ;).  I know, shocking!  And the premium version is an upgrade to the free version, and currently available in the App Store for £1.49 – which we think is a very reasonable amount for a game that you are likely to spend nearly every spare minute in the day on! – at least for a few months anyway!

The Free Version….

In the free version you get the following features:

  • From today’s hits to classic rock, start with 6 playlists – there’s something for everyone!
  • Play with thousands of songs from Golden Oldies to today!
  • Invite your friends to quick challenges and see who has the best music memory.
  • Unlock new playlists featuring more genres, more artists, and special song collections.

So, as you can see, lots of nice features in the free version – and regardless of which version you are thinking of getting it’s always worth trying the free version first and checking that it is for you (which it most likely will be!).

SongPop on Facebook

The Premium Version…

The extras that you get in the premium version, for only £1.49 in the App Store are:

  • Play with twice as many friends at once!
  • Extended, HD quality music clips.
  • Totally ad free, forever!

There’s some nice little extras in there for not much money, so it’s well worth the £1.49 in our opinion.

Extra Tip To Get More Games!

However, if you want to stick to the free version for now, that’s OK – we’ve got a tip for you.

In the free version you are limited to 20 open games or challenges at the same time.  This can be frustrating, especially if you fall in love with the game (like we did!).  After you’ve got 20 open games, when you click ‘Create game’ within SongPop, it tells you to delete (end) another game first.

Well that’s a bummer!  However, regular Facebook users out there will likely have amassed a small army of Facebook friends.  How does that help you?  Well even after you’ve got 20 games open, you can still challenge people from your friends list to a game – and go well beyond the 20 open games limit.

Deliberate Or A Mistake?

Is this a mistake or a bug?  Or is it deliberate?  Well, we’re not entirely sure.  There are reasons for both.

It could be a mistake.  Maybe it’s a bug that slipped through the net.  This would be a fairly simple explanation to understand it.

Or, it could be deliberate.  SongPop is a social media game.  The key word here is ‘social’.  It’s beneficial for the developers for more people to play SongPop – as the more people there are, the more people that might pay for the premium version and increase revenues for the developer.  Also, new players are good for existing players as there are more players in the ‘players pool’ to possibly play against.  By allowing you to challenge (therefore invite) an unlimited amount of your Facebook friends the SongPop game and it’s player pool should develop at a much faster rate.  However, the one downside would be that if this is deliberate, it ‘devalues’ the premium version (kind of) as one of the premium features isn’t necessarily needed – the ability to have more games.


SongPop is an excellent game.  It gets a definite recommendation from us!  Make sure you’ve got a few hours spare when you first play it – most likely you’ll need them!

Both the free and the premium versions are excellent – and in our opinion, the premium version is well worth the small price tag.

Plus, you never know, you might go for a ‘random’ challenge and end up playing against the Original Facebooker, Mark Zuckerberg!  And with that combined with all the features of the fantastic game that is SongPop, it truly is a irresistible prospect!

SongPop – New Social Music Game Bursts Onto The Scene

SongPop Logo

We’ve been waiting a little while for a new social media game to come along – one which can restore our faith in gaming and give us a reason to surrender countless more hours than we intend to our social networking websites.

And it’s here.  Love social networks?  Love music?  Well you’re going to be in gaming heaven now then!

SongPop is the latest popular game to hit the scene, where you compete against your social media friends with the aim of guessing the artist or song title faster than your friend.  It is a turn-based game, so don’t worry, you don’t have to devote hours at a time to it (but you most likely will!).  The developers describe SongPop as “the most fun music trivia game to play with friends”.

Numerous different categories (or playlists) are available – at first you start off with a few categories such as 80’s and 90s but by playing games you earn coins (more for a win obviously!) and these coins can then be used to ‘buy’ more playlists and make them available for selection.  There’s playlists to suit everybody including lists such as 2000’s rock, modern rap, 60s and many more….. there’s even a Glee playlist!  (it’s pretty cool by the way!!).

As you play each category (playlist) you ‘progress’ in your knowledge of that playlist and the more progress that you make, the more songs that get unlocked.

SongPop on Facebook

SongPop is available on Facebook, iOS and Android.  SongPop is free but there is also a premium version which you can upgrade to for extra features, which currently costs £1.49 in the App Store.

SongPop was developed by FreshPlanet Inc, a New York based company created by two web entrepreneurs (who also happen to be brothers).

This is a truly addictive game!  Make sure that when you start playing you’ve got plenty of time spare – you may find it hard to pull yourself away!!!

Facebook Development for Websites – Graph API Introduction

The graph API is one of the new application programming interfaces launched by Facebook to replace the old RESTful API.

The graph API allows developers to tap into the ‘social graph’ and retrieve information from Facebook.  It can be used to retrieve public information and also, with the appropriate permissions, more personal information, information about your friends, employment – basically anything that you share to the public or explicitly authorise the app or website to access.

The graph API is not just limited to people and their profiles on Facebook.  It can also be used to access things such as events, pages and groups.  If it is on Facebook, then chances are you can access and retrieve the information using the graph API.

The ‘social graph’ on Facebook contains everything within the ‘Facebook world’ and how it connects and relates to each other.  You can get information on who is friends with who, who is attending which events, and who likes a particular celebrity.

Facebook treats all these different types of information as ‘objects’.  There are different types of objects but essentially, everything within the world of Facebook is an object and it is assigned its own unique ID which, as the name suggest, uniquely identifies an individual object.

Facebook - Graph API

Data that is retrieved from Facebook is in a JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format.  This is a widely used and standardised format which has become commonplace for applications and websites sharing information over the Internet.  Many programming languages will have support for JSON data types and will contain functions which can change the data into a standard format for that programming language.

For example, if you are using ColdFusion, then the JSON data returned by Facebook to your website is essentially, to all intents and purposes, as far as ColdFusion is concerned, a long string with delimiters.  In ColdFusion, this makes the data hard to work with.  It would be easier if it was a structure, with appropriately named attributes.  That’s no problem, ColdFusion includes a very handy function called ‘DeserializeJSON’.  This function can convert the returned data into an array (structure) of appropriately named attributes ready for you to use and manipulate within your application or website.

An example of the data returned by Facebook from a request to the Graph API is shown below:

    “name”: “Facebook Platform”, 
    “website”: “”,
“username”: “platform”,
“founded”: “May 2007”,
“company_overview”: “Facebook Platform enables anyone to build…”,
“mission”: “To make the web more open and social.”,
“products”: “Facebook Application Programming Interface (API)…”,
“likes”: 449921,
“id”: 19292868552,
“category”: “Technology”

(Facebook, no date).

The example above shows the returned public data about the Facebook Platform page.  It describes the general attributes and information of the page.  This can be used in data on your own website or it can be used in part or whole in your own functions and calculations.

The graph API can be used to access many items including:

  • Users
  • Pages
  • Events
  • Groups
  • Applications
  • Status Messages
  • Photos
  • Photo Albums
  • Profile Pictures
  • Videos
  • Notes
  • Checkins

The power of the Graph API cannot be overstated – when integrated correctly into a quality third party application, its full power can be realised and your application or website can be instantly taken from being standalone, to fully integrated with the Facebook website (and its many millions of users).