Last month, a startup called Joyride came out of stealth mode and announced that it has raised $1 million in funding. Since the company is building a platform for creating entertaining drivetime experiences, we decided that the best place to see the Joyride app in action was on the road.
Co-founder and CEO Jeff Chen described Joyride as an attempt to “make drive times more fun and more interesting” — instead of just listening to the same songs on the same radio stations, you could say, “Hey, let’s play a game together.” Or, “Pull up the latest comedy clips.” Or, “Teach me a new language.” It’s an application that you’ll eventually be able to install on your smartphone, which you then connect to your car stereo and control with your voice.
The first application is a trivia game, which you can see me play above. (Since we were playing with a pre-release version of the app, we decided to make the filming process go a little smoother by partially relying on the touch controls as well.) There’s a social component to the game, where you can try to do better than your friends or other players did — it’s timed so that the experience feels like you’re playing each other live, even though it’s really, in Chen’s words, “fake synchronous.”
The game is fun, but Chen acknowledged that it’s not going to be how people spend all their commute time. That’s why the company hasn’t launched its product yet — it’s working on a feature that plays comedy content from around the web, and it’s looking to expand the functionality in other ways.
“As you start getting two or three of these key features on that platform, it really starts getting interesting,” Chen said. Ultimately, he said he wants to turn Joyride into a “voice portal” for a variety of apps, some built by the company itself, and others by third-party developers.
The aim is to launch an Android app by mid-2013, he added.