The world of apps is full of small, agile applications designed to let you know what’s going on around you, and to let you pass on the same to either your friends or faceless thousands. Roamz, an Australian app that’s about to launch a new version in time for the iPhone 5 release, is something different; it does all that, but also utilises the greater world of social media updates and photography, to push relevant data to you – while you’re on the move.
The CEO of the company, and its founder – not to mention chief evangelist – Jonathan Barouch says “There’s really good data out there in social media, but unless you’re following the right person at the right time, a lot of that data is kind of useless.”
Roamz aims to provide an interactive, push-based solution to that dilemma, but sorting, ranking, and filtering posts from Foursquare, Twitter, Instagram and more, and allowing you to tag locations that interest you.
Jonathan visited us to show off the app, and considering that it’s free, it’s also very powerful. “It’s powerful because it’s repurposing content that exists, but that can be hard to access,” he told us. “[Mark] Zuckerberg was talking about this last week with his concept of social search; augmenting what your friends are doing, and what’s happening on social platforms, and then meshing it together.”
The latest version of the app, 2.5, includes a new Discovery Screen and Tile-based recommendation system, and watching it tick over, say, as lunchtime comes around, and the app gives you one-touch power to find out where the good eats are around you is impressive. But making sure that data is relevant, free of noise – as Jonathan puts it – and timely is the real trick; it’s powerful already, but it’s very much a work in progress.
“The honest truth is that we’re still trying to nail it all down,” Jonathan admits. “We only launched four weeks ago, and it’s based on a lot of feedback from the last version, but we’re getting better and better, and the feedback’s been really good.” In the first week Roamz was able to look at 11,000 searches, and armed with that data, the company’s already refining how it handles data.
“The biggest win for us getting to know what you like, then getting to know the data in the local area, so that when something’s going on that you’ll think is interesting, we can let you know.”
To that end, Roamz also lets you tag locations, like a restaurant or coffee shop, so that it can remind you that you’re close. Jonathan suggests it would be a great tool for travellers, who can mark down points of interest ahead of time, and then track them down in their destination city, while also seeing what’s going on around them.
The app is free, but there’s a good business angle to it as well. Jonathan hopes to monetise some element of the searches, in a way not dissimilar to the way Google already does. Even more useful for business owners, the app is a great way to source feedback from users in a timely and useful manner – not to mention actively target people in the area, and let them know what’s happening nearby.
With such a highly visual app, Jonathan’s very excited about the iPhone 5 launch. “It’s a lot of people getting new phones, so that’s always good,” he said. “It’s great for game developers, with that bigger screen, and it certainly lets us display data better.
There’ll be an iPhone 5 optimised version of Roamz at launch, and can found on the iTunes store here, or on Google play here.