Hey, YO! Let’s Go! – Appszoom.Com

WC15 Round-Up: Hey, YO! Let’s Go! An Internet-free Messenger App

One of my most highly anticipated appointments at this year’s Mobile World Congress was with a little messenger app called YO!

Those who follow me know I’ve been fascinated since this time last year by Yo, the infamous app that can only send that unmistakable two-letter message. Don’t be fooled; we’re talking about a different app here. Add some brand new wrangling of mobile messenger technology, a plan to spread throughout the developing world, and an exclamation point, and you end up with an entirely different YO!

YO! is also a free mobile messaging app, but that’s where the similarities end. Instead of being reducing into minimalist absurdity, YO! is fully-fledged, more like a Whatsapp in terms of its capacity to transfer any kind of data, including messages, video, audio, even .apk application files.

Messenger apps are a dime a dozen, but YO! brings something new to the table: you don’t need any kind of internet connection to use it.

YO! uses our devices’ ability to bounce data directly from phone to phone to communicate without any need for a paid data plan or internet connectivity. Data can be sent along existing WiFi routers and access points as well.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen this kind of technology – FireChat, the app that enabled communication during the internet blackouts of the Hong Kong protests last year, makes use of direct phone-to-phone data to offer hyper-local chatrooms. There’s a world of difference between the two apps, however; FireChat is similar to a giant open graffiti wall in which you can’t choose a specific recipient for your message, whereas YO! has all the functionality of a traditional messenger app.

If you’re reading this from the United States or Europe, you’re likely thinking, “What’s the big deal? Everyone has data.” That couldn’t be further from the truth.

More innovative messaging: 5 Best Instant Messaging Apps That Also Include Free Video Calls (Android)

Cheap smartphones, expensive data

Smartphone prices are plummeting. Basic low-end models are expected to hit the sweet spot between $30-$50 in the next couple months, finally making them accessible to those earning $2,000-$4,000 in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Vietnam, Egypt, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

The demand for connectivity in these areas of the developing world can’t be overestimated. Much of these populations are mobile themselves owing to harsh natural conditions, poverty, or political instability. Owning a phone means having a fixed identity point, a way to be found, to communicate with family, and to get access to invaluable health and safety information.

With smartphones finally reaching a reasonable price point, the biggest remaining barrier is data. An average 500MB data plan costs the equivalent of 18 hours’ work at minimum wage in India, over 28 hours in Nigeria, and topping out at more than 34 hours in Brazil and Mexico.

By the way, the average US smartphone user downloaded approximately 2GB per month as of November 2014 – four times more than that “basic” amount.

So far, folks in developing countries who have access to smartphones have had to use them as little more than glorified iPods. When they want data, be it pictures from their auntie’s wedding, emails, a favorite song, or an app connecting them to nearby doctors, they have to go to a specific location with connectivity (like an internet café) and pay for the specific amount of megabytes they use.

Instead of the unimpeded information flow many of us are used to, smartphones in the developing world are more like isolated devices, connected only ever so briefly to download and store the most valuable information.

YO! could change all of that with one fell swoop, if it spreads in communities yearning for connection.

A modest collection of our favorite ways to stay connected: BEST ANDROID APPS LAUNCHED IN 2014: Social & Messaging

Bangladeshi beginnings

The initial software powering YO! was developed by the Left of the Dot Media Inc. team out in Bangladesh, prompted by connectivity problems in the office. Apparently, every time the manager was shooing everyone out of the building each time he had a Skype call from Vancouver – anyone else online at the same time would clog the connection.

Power outages are common in Bangladesh, and data costs are disproportionately high compared to local wages. The constant information bottleneck gave rise to innovation, and in early 2014 the Bangladeshi team had put together a communication protocol enabling peer-to-peer connectivity between mobile devices, making use of existing WiFi networks even while the Internet was out.

This basic skeleton of direct communication now forms the backbone of the YO! app.

Send me some love, YO!

Here’s a visual breakdown of how YO! works.

Smartphones with a data plan send information “up” to the Internet unnecessarily. In places where network connectivity is precious, this can quickly overload the pipeline.

YO! works locally, without any need for the cloud, and up to 1000 times faster than Internet communications. If the two devices are quite close to each other, it can be done phone-to-phone, without any need for a router. The other way is through devices all using the same local WiFi network, with the option for sending specific data through the Internet upon authorization.

For users without access to cheap data, it means finally being able to send chats, photos, videos, books, games, music, and .apk files to each other, completely free of charge.

YO!’s mission: “To connect every person on the planet, whether connection to the internet or off-the-grid entirely. Yep. Every single one of them.” Initial distribution efforts will be concentrated in Bangladesh, rural India, China, and Latin America, with an aim to spread organically everywhere people still need to be connected.

Currently the YO! app is only available for Android devices, with iOS expected soon and Firefox OS soon after that. The beta version as of writing supports English, Bengali, Spanish, and Chinese Mandarin, with numerous Indian dialects and Brazilian Portuguese planned for the first half of 2015.

Article source: Click here to read the original article posted on Appszoom.com.