Yo - the Future of Push Notifications?

I have to admit, when I first heard of Yo, I was a little sceptical about how it would provide value and even more taken aback when it received over $1 million in VC funding! I mean, what is the point of receiving a "Yo" from a person or brand on the internet? It's even less useful than the Facebook "poke" feature.

The only application I happened upon was someone pointing out that it could be used by restaurants to let people know that their table was ready. Yes, this is true - but it surely doesn't justify $1 million in funding?!

I recently attended a Microsoft event where Or Arbel was speaking and a little more of the puzzle fell into place. With twitter and Facebook, we're bombarded with hundreds of updates from the people we follow - every day. What about if we only wanted to know about certain, less frequent events. Say your rugby team scores a try or your e-commerce side business receives and order. That and you can actually send more than a "Yo", you can send links and the Yoers (is that a word?) location too.

With that in mind, I set about having a look at their API and seeing how it could fit into my wine comparison website.

When you register a personal account, you can create additional accounts per application or end-points that suits your need (say your ecommerce website or specific rugby team). Once an application has been created, any user that Yos to it will be subscribed to the account. That account then has the option to send a Yo to a specific user or to all subscribed users. If a user sends a Yo to your account, the platform can call a url of your choosing with the Yoers name and optionally a url and their location.

With the help of a few C# packages, CompareVino will now Yo me when a new review is added to the website. In the hope of making it even easier for people to use, I've put the code on GitHub and created a NuGet package for it. You can find the project here.

And now for my thoughts on Yo. It's a start on opening up push style notifications to the masses - but it still has a way to go.

Specifically, I would like to see the following implemented:

  • Allow users to send text with a Yo. Yes, this moves away from the "zero characters communication" but you could argue that they've already done so with the introduction of links and geo points. Why should I force someone to open up a webpage to view the rugby score when I could say it's South Africa 14, Australia 10?

  • Allow the possibility for new subscribers to be vetted before they're added to the subscriber list. This is specifically for users who would like to be notified about events that have context for them but not others (like notifying competitors when a new order has been received on an e-commerce site).

Other than those two gripes, I'm pretty confident, maybe even excited about the possibilities that Yo could open up. With less noise than Twitter, it could be the WhatsApp of push notifications.

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