Knock, a recently launched Android application, offers a new twist on mobile messaging. When you send a message using this app, Knock simulates an incoming call to get your friend’s attention. But the call screen your friend sees looks slightly different than usual. Instead of the standard accept and reject buttons, they’ll see your text message written on the screen which they can respond to with a swipe in order to say “Yes,” “No,” or to share their location.
It’s a clever idea, though one that’s still limited by the number of friends you can convince to install Knock, as well as by the app’s currently Android-only nature.
Explains CEO Narayan Babu, Knock was originally built as a feature for Dialapp, which now has nearly one million users. After running millions of phone calls through Dialapp, the company found that around 65% of daily calls were simple status updates – the things that could be answered with a yes or no, or your current location.
“But soon, we realized [Knock] had potential to become a separate app,” Babu says. “We wanted to make it super easy for everybody to get answers without having to go through a phone conversation.”
Knock works in situations where you want an instant response, with little effort. Text messaging delivers on the reduced effort side of things. But texts – maddeningly, frustratingly – often get ignored for long periods of time when recipients are busy.
“Once you send a Knock, your phone will have a 60-second countdown when the phone will be ringing for the other person,” says Babu. “If he doesn’t respond within the time, the Knock dies and it shows ‘missed Knock’ on his phone.”
The simulated call screen doesn’t offer the option to answer the call, so your friend won’t accidentally try to pick up (though there is an option to respond by calling your friend back). However, the way it works does convey the sense of urgency that accompanies an incoming call in today’s overwhelmingly text message-favoring world. A call requires immediate attention, and that’s what Knock wants to bring to its users, too.
The app also offers a history screen which shows all your Knocks sent and received, including their responses. Going forward, the company plans to release a (likely more limited) version for iOS.
Meanwhile, Knock is a free download here on Google Play.