Rhodri Marsden: This new app Yo is a funny idea but $1.2m of funding is no joke

 

The internet has made us an excitable bunch. We jump on speeding bandwagons, keen to be in on something early and eager to get people to join us. Our behaviour can be measured down to the last unit, our rapidly changing interests charted across the web on hit-counters and graphs, soaring as we embrace something, and then levelling off or plummeting as we get bored. Last week, that almost violent capriciousness was demonstrated perfectly by a little app called Yo.

No more than a day's work for the person who coded it, Yo allows you to make a friend's phone emit the sound "Yo!" by tapping on their name on your phone's screen. Whether it was down to its simplicity, its inherent stupidity or the fact that news was sluggish in the world of technology, interest in Yo quickly reached fever pitch – particularly when it became known that investors had pledged $1.2m (£707,000) towards its development. When silly money is dumped on a silly idea, the silliness escalates. "Is this really all it does?" I giggled to myself, repeatedly sending multiple "Yos" to friends who responded with "Yos" of their own. As one Yo investor put it: "It's crazy, it's viral, the engagement is unbelievable."

But only for so long. Yo's appeal is laughably ephemeral; it's a mayfly amongst apps. It might still be riding high in the download charts, but after you've had it for 24 hours sending a "Yo" feels like a retro activity akin to wearing deely-boppers.

When Yo was first submitted to the App Store, Apple rejected it for "lacking substance", and while one can intellectualise about its purpose (indeed, Yo's chief executive Or Arbel has been doing just that, referring to Yo as "context-based messaging", where a "Yo" can have different meanings depending on who the sender and recipient are) it's essentially a one-joke pony. After receiving a poorly timed "Yo" in the middle of the night, I turned off the app's notifications, which was like unplugging its life-support system. It now sits on my phone, a redundant purple square, serving no purpose.

Which isn't to say that the "zero-character communication" represented by Yo isn't useful. We nudge, wink and nod at each other every day, knowing (or hoping) that the other person understands what we're getting at. We've done it using landlines ("call me when you get in and let it ring three times so I know you're ok"), we've toyed briefly with other online manifestations (eg, "poking" friends on Facebook), and do it daily via text message, sending kisses, emoticons or emojis to say nothing more than "I am thinking about you".

But our fleeting interest in Yo had little to do with this, and everything to do with the fact that a phone going "Yo" is funny. But only very briefly.

Yo's brush with fame would only be as notable as your bog-standard viral video of an inquisitive dog, were it not for the amount of money being thrown at it – and there continues to be widespread disbelief on that score. It would be a piece of cake to build Yo's functionality into existing messaging apps or even a smartphone's operating system, neutering Yo at a stroke.

Yes, there's evidently a need for the digital equivalent of the nudge and the wink – the buzz of reassurance, the beep of acknowledgement – but whether there's a market for that is another question entirely.

twitter.com/rhodri

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.Net, ASP.Net - Kingston, Sur

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior Software Engineer - C#, VB.N...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker