NowFloats is an app which has been developed by startup NowFloats Technologies and brings a breath of fresh air into the way mobile apps look and work. NowFloats is more of an open implementation of a social network which has your thoughts and location at its core. The app also looks at keeping content relevant and fresh. A lot of social networks have have issues with relevance of content. The NowFloats structure and implementation makes it very simple to keep content fresh, and the best part of this is that all the hard work of doing that is crowdsourced. We will be looking into it later in the post.
NowFloats Technologies has been founded by Jasminder Singh Gulati, Ronak Samantray, Nitin Jain and Neeraj Sabharwal. The company has been incubated by the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure following them winning Microsoft Bizspark’s India Startup Challenge in the mobile segment. Let us look at what NowFloats is all about.
The app is cross-platform is already available for Android, Windows Phone and Windows 8. The iOS app is in the works and should be out shortly. I checked out the app on Android. It is lightweight and works very smoothly on startup.
As you can see, the UI of the app is very cool. You can see content on the app even without registering for the service. You will however not be able to post any content. You can login using your email ID or your Facebook account. You also get to choose cool avatars before you can begin.
NowFloats has 3 distinct features – Floats, Offers and Events.
Floats are content bubbles which you let out into the NowFloats’ cloud. They could be anything, your thoughts, a review, an image.. whatever. It is like a tweet but there are no restrictions as such. The innovative part about the floats is that they will stick to the physical location you have let them loose at. Say you are in a restaurant and you post a float, the float will remain there for other people to see when they come in to a restaurant. This is an excellent option for diners to check out the thoughts of patrons who were there previously. This can be applied to any place you are at. Another awesome bit is that other people can choose to ‘air’ the float or to ‘sink’ it. If you air it, the float stays for a longer time on the app. If you choose to sink it, it sinks in popularity and if everyone does so, it will disappear. This ensures the freshness of content on the app.
NowFloats explains the concept in their own video. Check it out here.
Offers are supposed to show you the hottest and the most exciting deals happening all around you. The offers implementation is nicely done as it is not shoved in your face like others. You will have to proactively check out the offers whenever you use the app. The problem right now when I tried the app was that I couldn’t see any offers. The app just showed me a blank screen.This is probably because there is not enough offer content to span all the places. However, the startup should work on getting Offers on most places across India, else they will not be adding any value to the early adopters.
This is another exciting feature which shows you information about upcoming events in an area. Once again, all you have to do is check out the app in the area and find events. These are nicely arranged.
Getting Offers and Event data is an uphill task for a app startup and hence NowFloats has partnered with many established setups in the country which provide updated information on what is happening anywhere in the city. These providers are listed below.
Burrp – Events, nightlife, etc.
MeraEvents – Corporate events, conferences, etc.
MyDala – Daily online deals across India
Employee Street – Meal discounts in Hyderabad
Gap Miners – Upto75 & No More Queue
DealDrums – Unbelievable daily shopping deals
TimesDeal – One attractive deal every day
Google – Location data
I loved the app and I can predict that it has a huge potential in the Indian market. I am also very impressed by the design aesthetic and simplicity of the app. It is a very different and fresh looking Indian mobile app compared to other apps out there. However, it does have some stability issue on Android. It crashed more than once on my test run with the app.
Besides this, the app is very good. I recommend that you guys go ahead and try it.
I reached out to Jasminder and asked him a couple of questions about the app.
1. Can you give us some background into how this app came about?
The inspiration for NowFloats was something rather simple: Comics. We all know that data or information exists all around us. But why does it have to be represented in conventional and complex forms. So in essence NowFloats’ technology translates the concept of characters in a comic strip communicating through floating message blurbs, to the real world. The aim is to bring the same level of simplicity, elegance and ease of information consumption.
2. I am impressed by the lightness and design aesthetic of the app. Can you share how you guys approached the design aspect?
NowFloats is a location based app that tries to clearly tell the user, the buzz of the location he or she is at. Since the ‘buzz’ is far higher in urban areas, you will find the sense of a city throughout the app. The cities vary, just as they do, as you go from one place to another. The ‘places’ in our app are the different content sections (thoughts, events, market offers).
However the design challenge was also having a clear distinction between different content sections, as a user navigates through them. Therefore along with the cities, colour came out as a clear strategy. We used yellow for thoughts, green for market offer and blue for events.
We tried sticking to the native user behaviors on each platform, altering looks for the Windows Phone versus Android and the iOS, however we did not use out of the box design elements – which presented a challenge every now and then. However in the end, the look is unified and we are still finding ways of improving user experience and bringing it closer to the native usage patterns.
3. So, how many people are there in the NowFloats team?
We are currently around 15 people in the team. We plan to hire more people as well scale our operations.
4. Can you tell us what more can be expected from NowFloats in the future?
Currently, we are focused on getting our app out on all the mobile platforms. At the same time, we are planning to various improvements and additional functionality for the app based on the customer feedback. Our aim is to make it super simple to discover a buzz of a location and we are working towards making that a reality. Also, going forward we continue to add content that will add value to our customers.
If you have Android or Windows Phone/Windows 8, you can give the app a try and let us know what you think of it.
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