An app to help us hang out with our friends.
We are fortunate to live near lots of friends, but we all have busy lives, which means we need to schedule get togethers in advance or send huge group messages.
My friend, Sadie, and I love to get together but it wasn't easy.
A few problems we ran into repeatedly:
So we wrote our dream app:
A way for us to get together with folks without bothering them if they're busy.
There are a few ideas we tried out:
So I put together a few screens — what's the fastest possible way to send an invite? How should we display invites from others?
1. When a friend invites you, you get a silent notification. No group message chat blowing up your phone.
2. Opening the app, you see current invitations. Want to join them? Send them a text or just call them. No need for yet another siloed chat system on yet another social network. Everyone has a cell number. Use it!
3. Fast invitations. Now I want to invite folks. I tap "I'm up for…" and enter a description and pick a time a time. No date! Today only!
Announce it and the invitation is sent to your friends and placed on their maps. Boom. Done.
This was Sadie's first iOS app, and right after iOS 9 was released, introducing the new 'flat' style.
This was an incredible, incredible piece of work for a first project.
Totally custom UI, custom list views, using Parse as a backend, maps, push notifications, geolocation. This app had just about everything you could imagine.
We made iterations and changes along the way. For example, Sadie added friend groups and a text list of invitations, saving taps.
We launched in 2015. Our hamster mascot leading the way.
Our goal for this app wasn't to get big and become the next social network.
Instead, we wanted to use it with our friends and that's exactly what happened.
All our friends joined and we used the heck out of it! Lots of invites, after-work dinners, hikes. Turned out great for parents since their schedules were so varied. Some novel uses, as well. I used it as a geolocation diary.
Our Android-using friends begged us to make a version for them. (sadly, we didn't have the bandwidth to do this)
We discovered things.
People love getting invited to things, even if they can't go. A silent invitation lets the recipient know that someone was thinking of them and wanted to hang out. That itself brought folks closer to each other.
Silence is golden. Unlike all the other messaging and social network apps, our decision to have silent notifications was the correct one for our use case. Low-key and no pressure helped introverts feel more comfortable sending invitations.
Location isn't always necessary. It looks cool, though. We had some ideas that were going to use the map if this got big.
Everyone has a phone number. You never know who is using what network nowadays, but everyone using a phone number makes it easy to connect to your friends.
We have different friends for different activities. The initial design sent the invite to all your friends, but we realized that privacy includes who doesn't see your invite.
Building a social network app is hard! It just is. There are so many components and frameworks.
Well… our app was interesting enough that Google came out with a verrrry similar app a year or so after we released.
Independent inspiration? Maybe they saw our friend using it? Flattering to see that someone else thought the idea was interesting.
We were basically the first, though!
We've seen other versions of our app — often by larger companies with existing social networks — all with different priorities.
Our focus on calm, privacy, and avoiding lock-in still hasn't been replicated.
Sadly, in 2017, one of the back-end services we relied on — Parse, by Facebook — shut down. By this time, Sadie had started a new job and we didn't have time to migrate to a different system, so we had to shut down our app.
Years later, we still have friends telling us how much they loved using Up4Stuff.
We loved it, too and sometimes think about rebooting it.
2015–2017 San Francisco, CA
Custom code. Concept: Bryan Wu, Programming: Sadie Contini