Approach v2.0 focuses on UI improvements
Approach v2.0.0 has been released and is available for iPhone and Android. Our primary focus for this release was to improve the user interface based on end-user feedback and make the overall app user experience much simpler. A secondary goal was to eliminate the confusion created by naming the app “WhenHub” (i.e. the company name) and giving it its own distinct identity.
In this post I’ll describe some of the key Approach UI enhancements. But before that, I think it’s useful to review why we built Approach as we have many people just learning about the app for the first time. There are three primary reasons we created Approach:
1) Ad hoc geostreaming
We wanted a solution with very low friction for initiating bi-directional, real-time geostreaming between multiple individuals. We couldn’t find any existing solution that was simple, easy, and worked equally well with family, friends and acquaintances, so we decided to build one.
2) Privacy focused
At WhenHub, we care about privacy, and we wanted to make who you are sharing your location with, and for how long, very obvious and easy to view and change. In particular, we wanted the duration aspect of geostreaming to be a set-and-forget feature so you don’t inadvertently continue to share your location beyond the time you set.
3) When, not Where
On the surface Approach seems to be all about location, but that is actually only partially true. Given WhenHub’s focus on time, we built Approach with a vision of creating a solution that is at the intersection of time and location. Instead of answering the question “Where are you?,” Approach focuses more on answering the question “When will you be here?” It’s no accident that Approach has integration with your calendar and can trigger Approaches automatically based on meeting appointments. As the app evolves, look for us to reveal more time-related capabilities in the app.
Now that you have a better idea of why we built Approach, it might also help to understand our rationale for building an app when popular location-sharing solutions already exist.
When people hear about Approach for the first time, common objections we hear is that the iPhone has the built-in “Find Friends” app, and Google has real-time location sharing in both Maps and Waze apps. The fact is that both solutions might be perfectly adequate for many people whose primary use-case for location sharing is close friends and family. However, once you extend the scope beyond this small circle, these apps don’t fare so well. That’s because there is either some initial setup required, or you need to be using the same phone operating system, or the location sharing is uni-directional.
Approach is different. You can geostream with anybody regardless of whether they are on iOS or Android (or just using a web browser). The only requirement is that you need some way (SMS, chat, email, paper note) to share the Approach link with them. Approach doesn’t try to be the Swiss Army knife of location-related stuff – it does geostreaming with a time element, and it does that well. It’s simple, easy and focused.
User Interface Improvements
As I mentioned earlier, Approach v2.0 is primarily a user interface improvement release. When you launch the updated app, the overall changes will be obvious if you have used prior versions. We hope you like the simplified UI. Here’s a look at the main enhancements.
Starting an Approach
We simplified how you initiate an Approach, as well as the user interface for selecting location and geostream duration.
In a prior release, we introduced invitation sharing, but it was somewhat confusing. Now, there’s just one button for inviting other participants and it displays the share panel built-in on your phone so you can use any app of your choice to send an invitation link to invitees.
The Notifications Settings view is now simpler and clearer. In addition, we re-engineered the triggers for these notifications so they work better than in previous versions.
In prior versions, creating a better Favorites experience was challenging because there were two ways to invite participants. Now, the “Manage Recent Approaches” view provides an easy way to manage your favorite Approaches.
To be honest, Calendar integration is an “under-the-hood” feature so it doesn’t have much of a user interface. It’s also a very useful feature that we have cleverly (?) hidden so most users aren’t aware of it. I added this feature to this post so more people can be aware of it.
The Calendar integration feature is designed to make starting Approaches as easy as possible. The app periodically scans your Calendar for events matching the criteria you set in the “Auto-Start Approach” view. If it finds any, it provides a helpful prompt so you can activate an Approach automatically for a meeting with the people you are meeting. It’s a convenient feature and also supports the #approach hashtag for triggering automated approaches.
We hope you like the enhancements we have made. This release also includes some great features for Business users. I’ll share more details of these in an upcoming post. Now go download Approach and let us know how we did.