Yo, the one-word messaging app with an emphasis on simplicity, just got a lot more complicated.
Yo’s newest update introduces the ability to see the user profiles, send and receive link attachments, start your own Yo hashtag, and browse something called the Yo Index.
It’s the first major overhaul of the app, but fans of Yo’s overly colorful design will be pleased to see that the app looks largely the same.
The app’s functionality, however, has morphed from a stripped-down two-way communication tool into a notification app for websites and services.
You can still send and receive Yo’s like you could before, but the app’s overall stark simplicity has been exchanged for a host of services that distract from the original intention of the app.
Some of the new features make sense, others represent an indulgence in social features that make little sense outside of pitching Yo’s services to companies and brands.
The new user profiles let you swipe a username to peek at the user’s real name and photo (if you choose to display that info). It’s a tiny addition that helps make sense of your friends list.
For those interested in using Yo for website notifications in addition to person-to-person messaging, the Yo Index is a tidy list to help you stay on top of the various notification services you can set up. There’s “YoMyPackage” for receiving a Yo when your Fedex package arrives, “Craigslist” for notifications on new listings, and even “Tweetstorm,” which offers to Yo you when “venture capitalist Marc Andreeson begins a tweet storm on Twitter.”
The introduction of hashtags, however, is our first indication that Yo’s creators want to turn Yo into a social experience that brands can take advantage of. Anyone can create a hashtag and Yo it to their friends, and you can check how many Yo’s your hashtag has received by swiping right.
There’s even a trending page. If you think about it, Yo hashtags are really just a way to quantify interest in a topic or brand. Thrilling.
The last addition to Yo enables you to send and receive URL links in your Yo notifications.
Say, for example, you want to share an interesting article you read. You can now copy the link, open up Yo, and then tap and hold a finger on a friend’s name to send it along. Your friend will receive a traditional Yo, but a tiny asterisk lets them know it contains a link. Opening the notification will then open the link.
Again, many of Yo’s new features aren’t necessarily bad, they just represent an evolution away from the simplicity of an app you didn’t even have to open to use. The core of Yo is still there, but its team likely realized that brands and companies want to turn notifications into advertisements instead of messages, and that’s an entirely new product altogether.
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