App watch: Query your human network with Jelly
New York » Jelly is an app for when you walk by a tree and want to know what type of tree it is, so you snap a photo of it and ask your Facebook and Twitter friends.
Jelly is an app for when you wonder if you should trim your beard, so you snap a photo of said beard and ask your Facebook and Twitter friends.
It’s an app for asking what sights you should see during your next vacation in Budapest and Bratislava (ask Jelly if you’re wondering where that is). It’s an app to take a photo of a bottle of Knob Creek bourbon and ask people whether you should drink some if you have a sore throat.
Jelly comes from Twitter Inc. co-founder Biz Stone, who unveiled the app this week.
How it works » Download the free Jelly app on your iPhone or Android mobile device. It’s easier to find by searching "Jelly Industries." Connect the app to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
To ask a question, take a photo, use one you’ve already taken or find one in Google images. Ask away. The query will go to people in your Facebook and Twitter networks, provided they also use Jelly. Your friends can also forward your question to their non-Jelly friends.
To answer questions, tap the icon on the top left. Questions will appear one by one. You can swipe the question away forever, star it to see what other people say, answer it or forward it your non-Jelly network.
But why? » Sure, you could do all this on existing social networks, or on services such as Quora, which lets users query people with first-hand experience. In fact, I got advice on reviving a dead plant simply by posting an image on my regular Facebook feed.
But Jelly extends your network by pulling in information not just from people you know, but the people they know.
Stone says Jelly seeks to prove that no matter how sophisticated computer algorithms become, "they are still no match for the experience, inventiveness, and creativity of the human mind."
Hands on » In the few hours I spent trying Jelly, I asked a half-serious question wondering when our office bathroom’s hot water will be turned back on and got some half-serious feedback. It was fun to answer someone’s question about what to do in Budapest, where I’m from. I sent a couple of answers and got a note back saying "Thanks!"
I don’t see using Jelly every day, but I’m not deleting it either. It could come in handy while bird watching, walking around a new city and, well, who knows.
Online » Jelly’s blog: http://blog.jelly.co