If you don’t know the parable of the stone soup, it’s worth a read — because it’s a great illustration of the trajectory of messaging app Yo. Yo was an app so simple we dubbed it absurdly, ridiculously so. The app let the user send a single word — the eponymous “yo” — to another user. And they could Yo you back. Or not. The app’s interface displayed a list of whoever had yo-ed you recently, the most recent name at the top. And that was pretty much it.
But not any more. Yo is growing up, fueled by its recent $1.5 million in seed funding at a $10 million valuation — and driven towards feature creep by an army of Yo clones. The startup has now released an update (v1.1.0) to its iOS app, which introduces a series of new features, including the ability to send more than just the word “Yo.”
Taken together, the updates sketch out a clear focus on marketing, with Yo looking to become a platform for branded n(y)otifications.
“This version shows the real power of the Yo platform which is, at its most basic, a two-way communication platform between people, websites, brands, businesses and virtually anything that can connect to the internet,” writes founder Or Arbel in a Medium post announcing the update.
First up, Yo Link means a URL can be attached to a yo — so the sender gets to both ping and point their recipient to a webpage of their choosing. Links are attached to Yos by having them in your clipboard and long pressing on the recipient’s username.
This adds obvious utility in a way that will turn the heads of marketing types — since it offers the chance to drive eyeballs to content via the medium of a Yo blast to all your subscribers.
“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. 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,” writes Arbel.
The new version of Yo also supports hashtags. Anyone can create them, and the more Yo’s a hashtag gets the more likely it is to end up trending on Yo. Hashtags on Yo keep track of how many Yo’s they get — and these can be displayed right next to the hashtag via a bracketed counter, or by swiping right on a hashtag to see the Yo tally. Again, branded hashtags within the mobile app are going to get marketing types salivating.
Also coming to the app in v1.1.0 is the Yo Index. This means users wanting to browse and find new Yo services to subscribe to can do so in-app, rather than having to visit a web page. Simple.
Yo has also added the ability for users to flesh out their Yo profiles by adding their (real) name and photo, should they choose. The idea here is to avoid confusion based on people only being badged by their username before. Now swiping right on a Yo username brings additional identity deets into view.