Yo is a mind-numbingly simple app that sends "yo" notifications to your friends, but its creators have been claiming some greater purpose since raising $1 million in June. Now it seems the startup is making good on those promises with its first major update, though I'm still skeptical that Yo is worth anything more than a laugh.
Yo's Tuesday update for iOS introduces a little more complexity to the app. You can now choose to display a full name and profile photo so your contacts see more than just a username when you "yo" at them. To see someone's full details, swipe right on their username. The update also lets you send a link attached to your "yo." This gives yo's more context, which is a good first step toward becoming an actual service.
Yo said news outlets that ping your phone with links to stories will be a natural use case for the new Yo Links.
"News websites can now offer not only getting instant Yo notifications when a story breaks, but also attach the story itself and readers can open it in a frictionless and convenient way," the company said in a Tuesday blog post. "When my friend posts a photo to Instagram, InstaYo can send not only the Yo to notify me about it, but also a link to the photo which will open in a single tap."
That's not all — the app also rolled out support for hashtags and will keep track of which tags start trending. You can "yo" a hashtag to your friends and see how many others have done the same by swiping right on the tag to see its "yo" count. Yo's hashtag count generator will show users — or brands — how many times it's been yo'd.
Basically, Yo wants to be a radically simple — or incredibly lazy — version of Twitter. Instead of having to do the work of composing interesting tweets or reading through your Timeline to catch links you missed, you can let Yo sling all of the essential stuff to your lockscreen. Developers are adding functionality to Yo with their own tweaks, like a service that yo's you when an earthquake with a magnitude of 4.5 hits your area or when your FedEx package arrives at your house. Yo even has IFTTT integration now. You can find the services integrated with Yo here.
Wall Street Journal columnist Christopher Mims argued this week that Yo could be bigger than Twitter. The app is platform-agnostic, with versions for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Amazon's Fire Phone. I'm still not convinced of Yo's potential, but if the app does eventually rival the world's biggest messaging platforms, tech companies will be kicking themselves for not paying more attention to the most basic way your smartphone communicates with you: the push notification.
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