In defense of Yo, the million-dollar app that sends ‘yo’ messages … and does literally nothing else


(Yo)

A million-dollar app, aptly called Yo, has been roundly and justly criticized across the interwebs this morning for a premise so apparently idiotic, it sounds like parody:

Yo, with the click of a button, lets you send a push notification that says “yo” to a friend. There are no pictures. No other text options. Nothing at all, honestly, except $1 million in venture capital — and the grandiose claims of the app’s inventor, Or Arbel, who claims to be revolutionizing communication.

How, you ask? Like this!


(This is literally the only thing the app does. That point’s clear, right? Okay, moving on.)

This is surely a sign of the apocalypse, the Twitter hordes have cried — a bit ironically, to be honest, since that network’s dwindling character counts and teensy blips of information were also considered signs of social downfall, circa 2006. (In some circles, that attitude’s still pretty widespread. Twitter’s character limit is causing writing skills to go “down the plug hole,” one professor told The Telegraph just last year.)

Granted, there is a large gap — roughly 140 characters of gap — between Twitter and Yo, which proudly advertises itself as “a zero character communication tool.” Then again, zero-character communication is actually pretty common, and it’s certainly very useful. Think the buzzers they give you at restaurants when you’re waiting for a table. Or Facebook pokes. Or old-school pagers. Or doorbells, for that matter.

Yo is ridiculous for its name, its eye-popping stash of venture capital, and the grandiosity of its founder — but those things aren’t unusual in start-up land. When you get past them, in fact, the idea is pretty good. Arbel told Think Progress he envisions a future where Yo pings you when your Starbucks order is ready, or when a friend’s plane lands. And in the interim you can use it, Facebook-poke-style, to annoy your friends. Yo indeed.


Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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Caitlin Dewey | June 18