B2B Users Rejoice! LinkedIn Finally Gets A Real iPhone App…Almost

LinkedIn is still the most popular social network that is solely focused on business use. It is widely used by professionals in B2B industries to hire employees, find vendors and generate leads. One of my biggest complaints this past year was how terrible the LinkedIn iPhone app was to use. I spend much of my social networking time on my iPhone. However, the LinkedIn app was basically not usable. It was so bad that you could not accept new connection in the app. You had to go to the web interface to do that. For most of 2009 the LinkedIn application was easily one of the worst applications on my iPhone and as a result, didn’t get much use.

As we are about to start 2010 LinkedIn as released a major update to is iPhone application, version 3.0. As you can tell from the screenshot at the top of this post, it as an entire new look and user interface. This new design looks a lot like the Facebook iPhone application.

The Facebook iPhone app is very well done and very easy to use, so I can’t really blame LinkedIn for moving to this type of design.

What Is New In 3.0

Version 3.0 of the LinkedIn iPhone brings a lot of changes to the design, but also adds some new features. One of the most interesting additions to the application is the “IN Person” feature.

The new feature allows people to connect on LinkedIn and share contact information when they meet, using the iPhone’s built in Bluetooth wireless technology. This feature can help save a lot of follow up time for those who dig back through cards and then manually send out LinkedIn invitations.

Additionally, you can now select profiles to mark as favorites, so you can add them directly to your application home screen. This can be very handy if you have some contacts that you need to monitor closely while on the go. It also makes it easy to download contact information from LinkedIn directly to your iPhone. This information can then be synced with CRM systems, which is a big step in the right direction.

Closer But Still Not There
While this upgrade is a huge improvement from the first versions of this application and has useful features for B2B users, there is still so much that it doesn’t do. The app still focuses on connections and doesn’t get to some of LinkedIn’s other features. The biggest feature missing is the lack of LinkedIn’s Answer platform. The ability to quickly look up answers and conversations from LinkedIn while in a meeting or on the road would be huge, not to mention having the ability to contribute answers when you have a few spare moments while traveling.

The new version of the app also does not include Groups or Events. The Groups function is where the major discussions happen on LinkedIn, not within status updates (which show up in the app under the discussions tab if they get comments). While some groups are more spammy and self-promotional, this is one of the prime sources of lead generation within LinkedIn. And the best use of the Events function is to connect with people while at an event. This is something that would be enhanced by its access on a mobile device, rather than on your laptop back at your hotel.

I think LinkedIn did a nice job on these updates, but a few more features are still needed to make this the killer B2B mobile application that it can be.

Do you agree? Do you like the new design?

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