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The app that says ‘Yo’ – and that’s it

‘The devil is in the detail’ is a phrase that does not apply here. This is an app which really is as simple as it sounds – perhaps even more simple.

Making headlines this week is the incredible $US1 million in funding received by Or Arbel’s ‘Yo’ app – an app which literally allows users to send a picture of the word ‘yo’, and nothing else. Although, users can also reply with ‘yo’ to one another.

Already the app has been downloaded over 790,000 times across the Android and Apple app stores.

Despite international derisive media coverage, and even being parodied on The Colbert Report, the man behind the app, software engineer Or Arbel, has denied the app is excessively simplistic.

“If you think this is just an app that says ‘yo’, you are getting it wrong,” Arbel told Mashable. “It’s a new way to get lightweight, non-intrusive notifications. We are here to cut through the noise. We like to call it context-based messaging.

In defending the popularity of his app, Arbel says it’s a way to play with ‘context-specific’ communication, similar to how the word ‘mate’ can be a term of genuine warmth or a passive aggressive warning. Indeed, the app was apparently inspired by Mr Arbel’s former boss who had wanted an app that functioned like a summons button for his assistant. There are also other examples of simplistic notification-based social media functions, such as the disused ‘poke’ feature on Facebook.

Working on the same premise, ‘Yo’ is useful for those who want to nudge a friend but didn’t have anything in particular to say. “Sometimes going into an app, typing out a message, all of that takes way too long. The beauty of Yo lies in the fact that this simple message can mean anything, it all depends on the context of the conversation,” Arbel said in a statement.

“Whether you just want to say ‘hi’, or ‘where are you?’, or even ‘I love you’ – Yo is the easiest and fastest way to do it,” he added.

Also proving the power of good PR, the app’s popularity skyrocketed after a blog post on The Financial Times sent the curious straight to the app store.

Since ‘Yo’ has taken off, Arbel has moved from Tel Aviv to San Francisco to seek more investors, hire a development team and work on the app full time. Notably, he has ruled out adding new features, though is said to now being working on an API.

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Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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