The night sky amazes me, fills me with wonder, but don’t ask me to point out any constellations. If I can locate the Big Dipper, then the stars have truly aligned for me. Likewise, I’m astounded by smartphone apps, but unless they’re as shiny and as obvious as the full moon, I’m not likely to find them, which is why I’m thrilled to come across the startup Hubbl.
Gazing Into The App Galaxy
Taking its name from the telescope that’s given us those mind-blowing pictures of our cosmos, Hubbl, an app discovery platform, aims to help us look sensibly into the expanding app universe. The “SkyView” layout displays app icons over a field of purplish, starry sky. Adjust the Hubbl lens to view apps popular in the media, suggested among your friends, or lighting up the Hubbl community. Icon arrangement looks uncluttered, making apps easy to spot.
Space exploration and star-gazing themes not only appeal to the kid in each of us–up on the roof, eager for shooting stars and satellites–they inform a clean and engaging design.
Gravitational forces such as fatigue pull a lot of creative efforts to curate apps back to Earth. Hubbl has taken a shrewd, collaborative approach to solve this problem. Users can search or recommend apps using hashtags. Rather than clump apps into rigidly-defined categories, this feature gives the Hubbl community freedom to explore using keywords relevant to individuals, and really opens up the channels for discovery. For astronomers like me who can’t follow traditional constellations, we can chart our own.
The tag system is a great way to let users shuttle conversation quickly and easily, given the popularity of Twitter. So far, Hubbl has drawn an enthusiastic crowd. The company reports 15,000 users have already tagged more than 20,000 apps with at least one tag. Users average over 9 minutes a session. To date, nearly 50 thousand apps have been “discovered” and 70,000 shared on the platform.
Developers should delight as well. The Hubbl Developer Program creates custom tags for apps, and grants access to a dashboard that monitors the creative ways users traffic in hashtags. This spares developers some of the headache of figuring out where to position their product among all the stars, and helps them more accurately account for how users identify with their goods–in ways they may well not have anticipated.
Become An Appstronaut
Design elements aren’t the only fun aspect of Hubbl. In addition to the smart curation and social sharing, Hubbl will soon include an interactive App Discovery Game. Hubbl will supply tags, and users will have the chance to suggest the most appropriate apps to fit the tag. From there, the chain might grow by adding suggested tags to match that app. Surprise prizes await top contributors and astute discoverers along the way.
Co-founders Archana Patchirajan and Kusha Choksi have already guided the startup past new Apple guidelines restricting some discovery apps. Patchirajan previously launched MyCityWay, a much lauded urban guide tool and now the official mobility service provider for BMWi.
Hubbl came into being partially because of the duo’s own struggle to grow a user base for another app, Hmmm, an avatar themed approach to managing content and privacy on social networks. They took themselves to task, building their own support platform to avoid the drift into oblivion. Hmmm remains in orbit, but for now the company is focused on Hubbl and keeping apps from falling into app stores’ black holes.