Plan your hangout with Google’s “Who’s Down”

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Look At Who’s Down From Google.

No longer content to just being the ubiquitous source of information of all kinds for the typical college student, Google is now trying to be the platform that friends use to plan their next hangout.Google Keep is a fairly useful note-taking application that links up with your Google account to keep all of your items synchronized across your devices (and the Web).

As 9To5Google reported earlier today, the company launched an app called ‘Who’s Down’ on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store this morning. No, it’s not an app designed to see whose inner Sadness—think Inside Out—is smashing the main buttons a bit too hard on their mind’s control console. While you’ve previously been able to dump a lot of content in the app—notes, to-do lists, photos, and even audio reminders—there are still other ways to interact with a note-taking app that have haven’t yet made it to .

Ostensibly a tool that allows friends interested in similar activities to quickly group and spend time on the event, the app is currently invite-only and is restricted to college students. It is an app, but it’s a new Google experiment designed to help people figure out which of their friends don’t have anything to do at a particular moment (but would like to go do something). Here’s Google’s tagline for the new app: According to screen shots, Who’s Down has a sliding button that users can switch on or off to indicate whether or not they’re around. It is worth noting, though, that ‘Who’s Down’ does not require users to sign up with an academic email address on a .edu domain, but does ask users to enter the name of an institution before joining the wait list. Once you install it and fire it up, all you have to do is move a little slider to indicate to any of your other friends using the service that you’re interested in hanging out.

Going after college students and teenagers with social apps isn’t exactly core to much of Google’s business, but it has been doing it with some small social efforts. If you’re the kind of person who’s now thinking about all the finger-tapping art you could create, know that Google Keep’s abilities are somewhat limited.

Activating the slider tells everyone else that you’re free for the next three hours, after which you’ll disappear from your friends’ lists of available people. You can’t adjust the time you appear on the list, unfortunately—making Who’s Down more useful for longer free times than, say, if you only have 45 minutes or so to go somewhere. Once more than a few other people indicate an interest in whatever you are interested in doing, the app will notify you and slide seamlessly into a chat room, where conversations disappear after 24 hours of last activity.

You can either pick from some pre-made options Google suggests or you can create your own activity that you’d like to get some friends interested in—like, say, “Anyone want to go to the mall?” If you notice that one of your friends is free and interested in something you want to do (or vice versa), then you two can chat with each other within the app itself. You can start your drawing through Google Keep itself or by a little widget you stash on your Android homescreen, which Google will be updating to include an icon for drawing. Shortnotice, a product launched by one of my classmates at Stanford over a year ago, has been using a similar system, allowing users to manually enter the activity they were interested in and waiting for other users on the app to express interest. ‘Who’s Down’ is also very similar in user experience and design to Free, an app cofounded by Path’s Danny Trinh.

Barring Google’s powerful autocomplete feature being used to reduce the time it takes to type in activities of interest, Google’s design choices are hardly novel. While on the face of it Google’s product appears to come with an intuitive design and excellent visual schemes, it is difficult to estimate the impact ‘Who’s Down’ will have on users without being able to use the app.

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