Back in June, Toronto-based Viigo released a private beta of its muscled-up RSS-reader for BlackBerry phones that looked poised to take a bite out of Yahoo Go 3.0. Viigo 3.0 beta took Viigo's core RSS newsreader and made it one meta-channel of many. Alongside a proliferation of customizable news feeds there would be weather, entertainment, sports, finance, travel information, and so on. Yet the design of Viigo 3.0 beta was a mere blueprint, a placeholder of what's to come with very limited working features.
At CTIA Wireless in San Francisco (full CNET coverage) on Friday, Viigo updated and opened its beta to the public, adding back-end and front-end changes that nudge the gap between Viigo 3.0 beta and its more successful Yahoo competitor. In addition to shrinking the memory footprint, Viigo has added the ability to add or remove services from the home screen. This is good news for folks outside of Canada who had previously been forced to live with the channel on Canadian sports. Viigo hints that with the next release, users might be able to not just add or subtract, but reorder information channels how they wish.
Fleshed-out information channels are also on the ascendancy, most notably the travel, finance, elections, and sports categories. Viigo's flight-tracking engine is now firmly in place, letting you keep tabs on flight status and create itineraries for Viigo to track. This travel function is not currently available from Yahoo Go, and could give Viigo an edge with some users.
Sports coverage has also grown to include a single sports channel that lets fans gather together stats feeds for each sport; in finance news, economic types can track industry leaders by market sector and monitor exchange rates. With a finger on North America's political pulse, Viigo has also bulked up coverage for the upcoming U.S. and Canadian elections.
There's still work to do before Viigo can catch Yahoo Go's breadth of services, but its differentiation in data types and sources, the organizational interface, and the ability to intuitively customize the channels and screen can only do Viigo good. At this point, Viigo needs to give its following greater control over filtering and manipulating data from the channels and more operating systems--iPhone and Symbian come to mind.
The blow-by-blow beta updates are encouraging reminders of Viigo's presence, but are beginning to wear thin. Let's hope that the next release of Viigo 3.0 is a complete one, and robust enough to withstand a thorough evaluation.
Until then, Blackberry users can try out Viigo's latest beta app by pointing the mobile browser to http://beta.getviigo.com. Windows Mobile users can also download Viigo, though that version isn't as advanced.