Developer: DPSquared Inc
Price: free Download on the App Store
Is social networking reaching a tipping point? With Facebook's recent slump in North American growth, one is lead to believe that we as a society might be overwhelmed with the amount of options within the space. Think about it. Between Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Gowalla, etc. nobody has time to truly connect with everyone, all the time and on all sites. It's a social mess.
What if there was an app to rule them all?
Enter, Damien Patton, veteran of Desert Storm, former professional racecar driver and now CEO of Banjo, the new social discovery service. Of course, like most useful inventions, Banjo was born out of necessity. A missed connection with a friend that happened to be at the same airport, in the same terminal and at the same time, but Patton didn't find that out until he got home.
With the ever-growing amount of social clutter, the next big trend isn't a new social network, but rather a way to make sense of the chaos. I liken Banjo to Google in that Google tames web content into an easy to use search engine. Banjo uses this same idea to ensure you're in the know about your social network in the convenience of one app.
“Every day, people use mobile phones to access social networks to connect with the world around them. With so much activity, it’s hard to connect the dots between all the information being shared. Banjo was created with this in mind.” remarked Patton.
Now, as of today, the app allows you to send tweets straight from the app, but only view your friends' updates from Facebook, Foursquare and Gowalla. The company plans to integrate two-way communication with the other social sites as they continue to grow.
Banjo is truly epic in that it can be used to interact with your friends around you or with anybody, anywhere. The social discovery app allows you to zoom in and out of different places such as Apple in Cupertino. I was poking around for the latest gossip, but was only able to find some guy working out at the Apple Fitness Center. Maybe he left the iPhone 5 behind.
“Banjo provides a layer of intelligence on top of existing networks so people can easily discover friends and new people or places around them, regardless of what social network they are on," said Patton.
Think of the marketing possibilities Banjo could have. Say your client is offering a discount in a certain store in a certain city. Dial into that city and connect directly with people in real time in that area. Genius.
“Banjo is poised to take social discovery well beyond the technology currently available. We are so impressed with Banjo’s innovation and the quality of user-experience, and look forward to supporting their continued growth as they take social exploration to the next level," said John Malloy, partner at BlueRun Ventures, initial investors in Banjo.
The user interface is simple, yet very robust. Once you open the app, you're shown the closet 16 people based on latest status updates. You can easily customize who you see (show all, friends or favorites) in the settings tab. You don't even need to sign into any of your social networks. You can just let your curious eyes wonder. However, I recommend signing into the various social networks under the social tab to see what your friends are up to.
Click on the map for a quick view of who is doing what in your area. Zoom out and find other areas that might be fun to check out, i.e. Paris, Hong Kong, etc. If you like what you see, simply tap the places tab in the upper left and then add favorite place to drop a pin and name your location for easy revisiting. You can also set your nearby notification parameters such as miles and recency of activity within this tab.
Banjo's ability to bring calm to the social networking chaos that seems to be taking over our daily lives just might be the next big thing.
Interview with Banjo CEO Damien Patton