Cloze (for iPhone) review

The iPhone app Cloze collects tweets, emails, Facebook posts, and other bits of communication from your contacts and prioritizes them based on people who are most relevant to you. It's a wonderful tool for getting relevant information about people in your network, although the Web version is more intuitive than the mobile app.
Photo of Cloze (for iPhone)

What I like most about the Web app Cloze is precisely what’s missing from its iPhone app: bits of communication from different places for a single person put into one view for the day. In other words, if my colleague tweets three times, posts on Facebook twice, and shares an article on LinkedIn all in a single day, I can see all that activity in one shot in Cloze. In the Cloze iPhone app, each of those items appears in a different screen, which you must swipe through to see. I still like what Cloze does on the mobile app, but I find it less efficient and interesting than how it plays out in the Web version.

Don’t mistake Cloze for a social media aggregator, even though it may sound like one so far. What it does is much smarter than simply put a lot of disparate conversations onto one page. For one, it adds context (although again, it’s watered down a little in the iPhone app). Second, Cloze scores each one of your friends and connections based on a number of factors regarding patterns of communication you have with them that indicate their importance—and, you can adjust the score if Cloze doesn’t seem to get it right.

How Cloze Works
Cloze takes a three-step approach to sifting through your online communication. First it collects activity from various channels: LinkedIn, email, Twitter, and Facebook. Second, Cloze aggregates all those tweets and messages per person by day, letting you see for example every status update and LinkedIn post a client or your boss wrote today only, or yesterday, and so forth. Third, Cloze displays the per-person list of activity in a prioritize order based on people’s importance to you. This last part relies on a Cloze score, which is loosely similar to a Klout score. You can override the algorithm and mark anyone you want as a “key” contact to make sure you see their updates.

The system succeeds in adding context which would be otherwise lost in just about any similar tool, such as HootSuite and the now unsupported but not quite dead Tweetdeck. Those two tools perform several functions that Cloze does not, however, so they aren’t direct competitors. Both Tweetdeck and HootSuite let you keep an eye on messages directed right at you, whereas Cloze instead focuses on activity from important people regardless of whether they’re trying to get your attention. But as with Tweetdeck and HootSuite, Cloze does let you “talk back” or respond to the activity you see from within the interface. A clean selection of response modes changes based on whether you’re reading a tweet, Facebook status update, LinkedIn post, or email message. As much as I definitely see the value in using Cloze, I think it could be even better if it stole—er, “borrowed” some features from social media aggregators.

Signup, Setup, and Use
From the Cloze iPhone app or website Cloze.com you can sign up for a free Cloze account and authenticate access to your various social networks and email accounts. While you can connect multiple email accounts, and even multiple accounts from the same provider (e.g., two Gmail accounts), you can only connect one of each kind of social network, i.e., one Facebook account, one Twitter, one LinkedIn.

Cloze then analyzes all the communication you’ve had with various people across the systems you’ve initialized and rates each of your contacts on a 1 to 100 scale. People with the highest scores become your Key People, although you can customize who is and isn’t among these VIPs. Cloze discloses a lot of information about its scoring algorithm, saying it takes into account dormancy (which measures the last time you and the person communicated), frequency (how often you two communicate), responsiveness (how quickly you respond to one another), privacy (how many of your conversations are private versus public), freshness (how often conversations cover new topics versus use the same language over and over), and balance (that is to say, two-way relationships).

Scores update daily, and you can see details of each person’s score by going into the iPhone app’s left-side menu and choosing the People tab at the bottom and selecting a person. The app shows a complete breakdown of the score across the various factors. A slider scale beneath the score lets you adjust someone’s importance if you need.

Each person also has a grid of icons that indicate the ways in which you can reach them. These include not just social networks and email, but also phone and SMS. You’ll also see here a place to add a note about a person, the option to “mute” them (or hide their updates from your Cloze feed), and add them to a custom list that you can create (which work similarly to Twitter lists, letting you see updates and activity from only those people). You can also edit information about a person, although there’s no simple way to merge contacts that show up twice accidentally.

For example, one of my co-workers appeared as three different people, presumably because she has different email addresses associated with some of her social media accounts, but I never saw a simple way to just mark those various entries as being the same person.

The main screen is where you view updates from your connections. I like that the Cloze app puts thumbnail photos of key people at the bottom of the screen so that you can easily flip to them to read their updates. As you swipe through daily updates, you can also interact with the activity directly from within the app. A little wheel of options pops into view with choices such as reply, like, mark as favorite—and these change based on what kind of communication you’re viewing. Cloze also has a check mark option for noting when you have already interacted with some activity and want to now remove it from the feed.

Better on the Web
Between the customization options for adjusting Key People and the ability to interact right from my Cloze account, I felt like Cloze really does hit the nail on the head for increasing the relevancy and context of activity from my social network—but the Web app does it much better than the iPhone app based on how it displays information. Although Cloze isn’t a social media aggregator in the same way that Tweetdeck and HootSuite are, I think it would easily become my social media app of choice if it added a few features found in those app, such as the ability to schedule posts and tweets and get alerts of mentions and incoming message. I’d also like to see the iPhone app better collate updates from an individual so that they have the same context that they have in the Web version.

Specifications
Type Business, Personal
Free Yes

Verdict
The iPhone app Cloze collects tweets, emails, Facebook posts, and other bits of communication from your contacts and prioritizes them based on people who are most relevant to you. It's a wonderful tool for getting relevant information about people in your network, although the Web version is more intuitive than the mobile app.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc