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March 03, 2011

Have a question? Why can’t you just ask around?

When you have a question on the go, you want to be able to get a direct answer to your question rather than wading through a sea of useless blue links. It was with this understanding that we launched our iPhone app last year. Our users agree, and have downloaded the app nearly half a million times since November.

We’re taking this concept even further with a new app that we’ll be encouraging folks to check out at SXSW, called Ask Around. Ask Around is a location-centric app that lets people join, save and share conversations taking place in their immediate vicinity.

We saw some of this location-centric chat behavior evolving naturally in our flagship app and took the hint that there was real interest in having a discussion with those people around you.  Launching Ask Around as a separate app dedicated wholly to this use case lets everyone explore the shared experience of location. Want to have a behind the scenes conversation with friends in the bar? Predict the next play in the game to those watching it with you? Find out where off campus people are heading tonight?  Discover what the crowd across the street is looking at? Ask Around is the app for that.

And that’s not all.  Ask Around gives you a view into the location-centric conversations happening in places you’re not at.  Get a preview of the scene at the bars you’re considering heading to, without leaving where you are. See what the folks at the conference are talking about even if you can’t attend. Or, check back in on an event or location you left hours ago, and see how the conversation has evolved.

Here’s how it works: The app uses your phone’s built-in location-detection (GPS, cell triangulation, wifi, etc.) to tell where you are, and offers a slide function to adjust distance for the conversations you want to view from a few hundred yards, up to 15 miles. There’s also a map allowing you to see conversations on specific streets, intersections, towns or cities (you can check out conversations outside of your location but can’t join them because this is all about location being the nexus of the conversation). You can also save ‘spots’, such as a bar, a classroom, a political rally, a convention center, or the beach.  Then you can tune back into the conversation to see how it unfolds after you’ve left, or before you arrive.  The app also allows you to share these ‘spots’ with other users.

Check out our video to see the app in action:


What Ask Around is not about is playing matchmaker or helping you meet new friends. It’s not about direct messaging, connecting, or following other users. At least not yet. Ask Around is about using location as a common denominator and allowing location-based Q&A to blossom into conversation – giving you a window into the real-time dialogue unfolding around you.

Click here to get notified when Ask Around is available in the store.  We want you to Ask Around…and let us know what you think!


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