Jelly, the much-hyped, question-and-answer-based social network by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, launched last week on iOS and Android.
Although it’s just beginning to build up a user base, with a famous founder and impressive list of investors (which includes Bono and Al Gore, along with Stone’s fellow Twitter co-founders Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams) the service likely won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
If you’re still not sure how Jelly works or if the service is for you, here’s what you need to know.
What Is Jelly?
Jelly’s goal is to help users find answers to their questions in real time by crowdsourcing opinions from their social networks — sort of a cross between Quora and Snapchat. Users snap a photo, ask a question, and get answers from connections in their social networks.
Stone says he developed the idea because there are some questions that can’t be answered with a simple Google search. “Jelly changes how we find answers because it uses pictures and people in our social networks,” Stone explains in Jelly’s blog. “It turns out that getting answers from people is very different from retrieving information with algorithms.”
Begin by connecting to at least one social network (right now, Facebook and Twitter are the only ones available). Part of what makes Jelly stand out is it also links you to friends of friends, so you can still connect with other users, even if none of your Facebook friends or people you follow on Twitter are using the service.
Each question begins with a photo. You can either snap a new photo, pull one from your device’s camera roll or use a photo from Google Images. You can also draw directly on your photo, similar to Snapchat. After choosing your image, you type out your question (text is limited to 240 characters but can include links).
You can see when people answer your questions under the activity header, which holds all of your notifications. Answers appear in cards underneath the text of your question. Swipe between the cards to view all of your responses. If you particularly like an answer, you can send the user a thank you card or share their answer via email, text message, Facebook or Twitter.
At the bottom of the screen is a tray showing how many other users need help answering questions. Questions appear as cards with the text overlaid on the photo. Answering questions works much the same way as asking — answer with text, a link, or by drawing on the photo (or any combination of the three). If you don’t want to answer, swipe down to move to the next question card.
Forwarding and Following
While asking and answering questions is at the heart of the app, there are other ways of interacting with questions. Star questions you’re interested in following in order to receive notifications as the questions are answered by other users.
And, taking the crowdsourced approach a step further, questions can be forwarded to friends who don’t use Jelly, via email or text message. Forwarding questions sends a link to the question, which can be viewed from a browser by those who don’t have the app installed. Non-Jelly users can then answer questions the same way as users of the app, with text, links or by drawing on the photo.
Where’s It Going?
While the app is still in its infancy, it does seem Jelly has already built up a sizable user base. According to statistics from RJ Metrics, Jelly had 8,275 active users on its first day alone. Though impressive, Jelly’s biggest hurdle right now, according to RJ Metrics, is maintaining engagement. While Jelly users asked almost 100,000 questions in the app’s first week, only about a quarter of those questions were actually answered.
Adding more features will also be key to maintaing engagement. At this point, the app itself is still relatively bare-bones, with little organization. There’s no way to search or sort through questions for topics you’re interested in, for example, and the only way to browse is by manually swiping through each card. There’s also no way to view which, if any, of your friends are using the service. The app also lacks a back button, which can make navigating between screens tricky.
What do you think of Jelly, will you be joining? Let us know in the comments.