Jelly, a new visual Q&A app for mobile

FastCompany reported this week that Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has launched a new visual Q&A app, called Jelly.

They describe it as a visual search for answers to a question you might have, but you can’t actually search. You have to take a photo (or choose one from Google images) and ask your question. And wait. You have to wait for someone in your network to respond to your question. You cannot search existing questions or answers for something close to what you need to know, at all. And that’s what I was expecting after watching the product video.

So let’s drop the word “search” from this conversation and look at social Q&A. Social Q&A isn’t a new idea. It’s what Quora does, but Quora is text-heavy and unfriendly to use. We already use Facebook and Instagram for asking our friends and networks questions, often providing an accompanying contextual image, so what does Jelly offer that’s different? It sure is pretty.

I downloaded the app for you, so I could try it out. But not without scrolling through dozens of jelly related games to find it.

Jelly shows us a card with a question obscuring the top half of the image. You tap the image for the question to disappear and see the whole image. The overlay also displays the social connections that exist between the question and people in your own Facebook or Twitter networks, along with an option to answer the question or forward it to someone you know who will be able to provide an answer. That person doesn’t have to have the app, by the way, they can respond via the web.

Jelly screenshot 2


At the bottom of the screen you can see how many answers are there and tap them to scroll through each reply.

Naturally, there are some game mechanics included to encourage your ongoing participation—your answers can be nominated as “good” by anyone who reads them, and you can accrue thank you cards from the person whose question you’ve answered.

Maybe I’ve been reading too much IT Skeptic, but I’m…well, skeptical. I don’t think it’s providing a whole lot of value that you can’t already get from Facebook or Instagram. I like the design though, and I love the ease of adding contextual images to questions, so I can only hope Jelly shakes things up enough for enterprise social apps to take those values on board for their own tools.