Another week and we have yet another great mobile app being reviewed. NowFloats came across as the finalists in the Microsoft BizSparks contest and winning a grant $30,000. Touted as India’s very own Foursquare, it didn’t take me long to dive into it and present you with a detailed review of the mobile app.
What is NowFloats?
In their own words, “NowFloats is a hyper-local, location based service and application that helps users discover the pulse of the location – where they are – almost instantly” which would literally translate as it’s an app that will have a location based curated list of thoughts, events, offers. It’s a great way to apply the principles of SoLoMo by having an app that will crowdsource content (Social), for a particular place (Local) with a mobile app (Mobile).
How does it help?
First thoughts, it has a great UI. A very intuitive interface and the use of right colors (color of homescreen changes with the time of the day), makes it a very pleasing application to use.
Once you have created a login or used your Facebook login, the app determines the location and provides details within the radius of 5 km. This radius can be altered upto 20 km, thereby covering major parts of the city.
The app is mainly divided in 3 parts: 1. Events 2. Offers 3. Floats.
The events and offers are not crowdsourced but are based on tie-up with various businesses. So, if you’re away from core business areas, you might see less number of events or offers around. Let that not disappoint you, just increase the radius and you’ll see more information coming in.
My view: I’m assuming that NowFloat has less partnerships in the city in which I tested the app and hence lesser number of offers/events. Also, I tried clicking on few of the offers for redemption and it took me to pages of Mydala and Timesdeal. As an app user, I would have loved to see a redemption code appearing on my device. Taking to a deals site and increasing the number of touch points of user seems to be very unfriendly!
Floats: Other than the typical use of looking for offers/events, it also provides a unique proposition called ‘Floats’. It is basically status messages or photos that people can share on the app. Being a location-based app, these status messages are tied to a particular location and appear based on where the user is. The best part was that it brought out a community feeling wherein you can engage with other users in the vicinity.
I see ‘Floats’ being equally helpful for consumers as well as businesses. Since, the floats can be rated which effectively decide how long the status message appears on your screen. Based on the location, businesses who monitor this app, can send messages to users around and drive more footfalls by presenting them with customized offers using a ‘Float’.
As for users, it presents them with one more platform to share their experience of using services of a particular business in the area. Being a crowdsourced platform, other users can rate the ‘float’ depending upon their experience.
My view: NowFloat has indeed taken the status messages to a new level, while what they offer may not be quite new, the way they have packaged and offered ‘floats’ is quite unique. By tying it to a location and also with other users having the ability to rate floats, it is indeed a great concept. Though while trying to use it, I was particularly not enthused by the way it works.
Once you click on a particular ‘float’, it provided me with an option to either ‘Expand’ it and view or ‘Rate it’. The ‘Expand’ function somehow didn’t work for a while and it kept on showing the same ‘float’. Assuming that it was a one-off incident, I tried again the other day and it remained the same. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to report an incident. Though it did start working after sometime and left me wondering what happened!
For an app, which has won the Microsoft BizSpark grant, I probably had more expectations. While it has a very commendable UI – very user-friendly and right colors, the social layer only comes into picture on it’s ‘Float’ feature, I would have loved to see people rating the offers and sharing their experience about it. A ‘Float’ tied to an event or offer could offer NowFloat another business proposition.
They also need to get their local partnerships going, taking users to deal sites for redemption of offer is in our view ‘suicidal’. It just doesn’t make any sense to take your users to a deal site for redemption.
I could also see some ‘floats’ which were more than 100 days old and without any up rating but multiple down rating and I was not really sure if the app works the way it says (a sink will reduce the life time of the message).
A fantastic app otherwise, taking up the right flavors of SoLoMo, I do expect NowFloat to work out on the small gaps for it to be used effectively by users. At downloads <500 on Android devices, I believe that users are expecting more from them and hope they live up to the expectations.
Nevertheless, conceptually they have nailed the industry need but I do look forward to that getting converted to a real business critical app. The app can be downloaded from here for multiple phone types – Android, iPhone, Windows.