YongoPal, a startup I have had the chance to accompany from very early on, launched in the iTunes App Store yesterday. If you followed the startup’s history at KirstenWinkler.com and here on EDUKWEST you know that this is just the latest incarnation of YongoPal and quite at the other end of where it all had started.
The YongoPal app is about exploring different cultures through photos and short messages. Two people are matched based upon age and interests and then share pictures and messages for one week, opening a window in each others culture. As Darien told me in an email today
It is pretty obvious that the new YongoPal doesn’t really have a direct educational imperative.
As I had the chance to test the app during its closed beta I also asked him about the feedback of the other testers involved. Darien stated that the reactions were mixed for reasons the team was aware of.
As you yourself experienced, the onboarding process is slow and is missing an important element of instant gratification — which is absolutely critical in the mobile space.
For people who made it through the slow onboarding process and who found themselves in interactions with new people in a different part of the world, the experience has been universally gratifying. This has even been true for people who initially declared themselves “not our target market” but who volunteered to test for us out of professional courtesy or personal friendship.
The team is of course working to streamline the process but it was important to test this new iteration of the platform and receive user feedback and not build something based on personal hunches.
The trickiest part for the YongoPal team was to learn how to actually create a mobile application on the fly.
This was the first mobile application that Daron had ever designed and only the second iOS app that Jiho had ever coded. When you’re looking at our product by the chronological order of when different components were designed and built, you realize what a big difference just two months of learning make.
During the first day that the app is live in the iTunes App Store it already attracted users from 13 countries around the globe, namely the US, Canada, Mexico, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, England, Germany and Switzerland and the majority of them were not beta testers.