As previously reported, Biz Stone's Jelly has finally launched. We've been hearing about it for about a year without really knowing much about it. Now we know what it is, and we've had a chance to mess around with it a little.
I stress a little. I'm not going to pretend that I know what Jelly is completely or what it may or may not become. I wouldn't listen to anyone today that claims to know. I doubt even Stone and his colleagues really know for sure.
But a lot of people have downloaded the app (it's available on iOS and Android), and are messing around with it trying to get a feel for it. I downloaded it, and it locked up my entire phone when I tried to connect it to my Twitter account. Not a good start. But I don't know whether to blame Jelly or my phone (though this isn't something that I've had to deal with with this particular phone in the past).
Anyway, once I took out the battery, reinserted it, and fired up Jelly again, everything was fine (at least as far as bugginess goes), but I'm far from sold on Jelly as a product. It's more the concept behind Jelly than the actual app. Why do I need this app on my phone? In what circumstances would I truly reach for this product in day to day life? These questions remain to be answered.
Jelly's answer, based on the promotional video that accompanied the launch (below) is basically because people want to help each other. You're walking along, and you find something that you don't know what it is, and you ask your people on Jelly in hopes for a real answer.
Okay, but so far, I'm not seeing a lot of that. I'm seeing a lot of dumb questions, a lot of snarky answers and otherwise unhelpful answers, and perhaps most importantly a lot of questions that don't need Jelly to be asked. To be fair, these are probably issues that plague all Q&A services.
People are already asking tons of questions that don't require pictures, which seems to defeat the purpose. A couple of examples I just saw were somebody asking about the best bottled water brand and someone on how to get an interview with Biz Stone. These were accompanied by pictures of a Dasani bottle and of Stone respectively. I don't think these are the kinds of questions Jelly has in mind, and it seems like a bunch of noise.
This isn't helped by the interface though. There's no coherent rhyme or reason to the content you see when you open up the app. At least not that I can tell. It's just a never-ending stream of random questions without any categorization for context. Maybe that will come later.
But you do get notifications. I've had several in the last couple hours since I downloaded the app. I got more based on other people's questions than I did for the question I submitted (which was admittedly a stupid question too, as I was just trying to test the functionality, which I assume many others are doing as well). You can turn the notifications off, but I can see leaving them on getting annoying really fast.
Notifications would be one thing if they were for questions that I really had any desire whatsoever in answering. If they could get that right they could be onto something. Unfortunately that's not the case so far. Also, it would be nice to be able to delete my own stupid question so I stop getting notifications every time someone answers it without having to turn notifications off completely, but if there's a way to do that, they don't make it easy.
These are just first impressions, and I don't want to come off as too harsh on Jelly, because maybe there is more to it than meets the eye, and maybe it can be a lot more. Maybe once people get past the "checking it out" phase, it really can be something useful.
It doesn't seem like all that long ago that we were all trying to figure out another startup Stone was involved in. Remember the countless articles trying to figure out the point of Twitter?
Jelly fancies itself "a new way to search," and some have likened it to a Quora, but it's kind of more like a social Google Goggles. I'm just not sure if that's something I need. Maybe someone does.
End of knee-jerk reaction.