Futureful iPhone app

Get the current Pointer on Mobile Phones: Mobile Phone Advisor

Helsinki, Finland-based smarter internet surfing startup Futureful, which launched in the U.S. on iPad back in January – and is finest referred to as a predictive discovery engine (as opposed to a conventional web browser) – has extended its reach, launching onto the iPhone with a global app. The start-up has raised around $1.5 million to-date. Its main investor is Skype (and Kazaa) co-founder Janus Friis.

The earlier UNITED STATE- and iPad-only launch was a ‘test-run’, states co-founder Jarno Koponen, aimed at seeing how its device discovering tech handled out in the wild. It also wished to see how users took to its interface/UX – which dispenses with URL bars, and other traditional surfing stuff, to concentrate on encouraging interest and serendipity. As part of that test run, Futureful has actually now upgraded its user interface – ignoring the original discovery ticker and opting for a brand-new bubbles-based surfing mechanism rather.

The brand-new interface – presented in the iPhone app however likewise now pushed out to the iPad app too – focuses on dynamic surfing bubbles which include subject words, and are made use of to bubble material up at the individual. The individual taps on a bubble to dive into a certain subject, generating a swarm of associated bubbles. So, for example, a bubble containing the word futureful‘monitoring’ could (presently) bring up others including the words ‘NSA’ and ‘Edward Snowden’.

In-topic bubbles can then be incorporated to make a search much more certain – efficiently creating a visual variation of the ‘+’ search engine function, while also giving the individual visual cues about pertinent addition terms to incorporate into their search. Articles that match the existing search combination/bubble conglomeration appear at the bottom of the iPhone app, easily accessible through a swipe.

‘Bubbles offer a way to easily discover things, you can pick one specific thing or you can combine it with something. There’s no linear connection however the connection that every person sees. And every person sees different connections even in the exact same set of topics,’ states Koponen, discussing the reasoning behind the design. ‘Likewise, the experience is calm. You can do things in your own time. Get things where you left them but at the same time make certain that there’s something brand-new for you. You never ever wind up in the exact same place two times.’

It’s not the first time I’ve actually seen bubbles as a visual method to urge discovery. For example, back in April, vitamin and organic food online merchant Vitacost introduced a tablet-optimised site for the iPad and iPad Mini that consisted of ‘browsing bubbles’ to displayed associated details and items to urge online buyers to discover new things as they browse.

Futureful’s bubbles are more sophisticated than Vitacost’s, being as they can be incorporated in various ways, but it’s intriguing to see the same visual metaphor surfacing when the underlying objective is to introduce more serendipity into the digital sphere. The filter bubble principle – which argues that traditional online search engine are narrowing an individual’s view of info online since search results become progressively tailored to their past and social preferences – is doubtless notifying design today.

Futureful doesn’t have an indication in procedure (although it uses iCloud to connect your iPad and iPhone use) or any social feeds powering which material it bubbles up. Rather it counts on AI, semantic tagging and equipment discovering – aka it tracks everything you do – meaning it’ll find out more about you as you utilize it. But it likewise has built-in mechanisms to stay clear of becoming its own version of the Google filter bubble. Generally considering that it understands what you look at, it also knows what you have not / do not – so can push that things at you too.

‘We encourage discovery by making internet surfing a fluid and unlimited individual trip,’ adds Koponen. ‘Bubbles welcome you to touch them. When you have chosen your first topic, we provide you alternatives i.e. your every choice matters and directs the trip. The app picks up from your every interaction. We are not attempting to provide you one ideal answer but a set of interesting options i.e. we encourage you to check out and surpass exactly what you currently know. To support discovery, the quest isn’t linear – you can leap to various instructions (e.g. by combining ‘art’ and ‘nanotechnology’) or you can continue with relevant topics (e.g. ‘art’ and ‘abstract paintings’).’

The initial bubbles that appear in the app are ‘based on hot subjects’ as well as on what simultaneous users of the system are doing- so comparable to Twitter’s trending feature. After that, the app tracks all your options to feed its formula, in addition to looking at various other individuals’ patterns of choices to add ‘most likely patterns’ from their profiles to yours to attempt to forecast topics of interest for you.

Koponen says it prevents the filter bubble result by presenting multiple topic selections – both those with strong connections and those with ‘serendipitous’ connections.’We do not provide you one single response, however provide you both strongly connected subjects along with topics with even more serendipitous connection and allow you to pick. We prevent ‘filter-bubble’ by offering you likewise topics that you and your similar users/concurrent users don’t share,’ he says.

‘A streamlined example: you and you similar user share topics ‘innovation’, ‘travel’, ‘design’. We look exactly what topics the similar user has and you do not have, and offer you an option of those ‘not-shared’ topics to introduce you new possible connections. This allows us to provide new options, things that you are possibly thinking about.’

Futureful isn’t breaking out downloads or individual numbers yet, noting that it’s been concentrating on optimizing its individual experience thus far. Its staggered launch this year has belonged to that – allowing it to test how its ‘non-session-based, context-specific fluid experience’ flies, and evidently decide that a new bubbles-based interface was a better idea than a topic ticker.

For now Futureful continues to be iOS just but an Android variation of the app is prepared, possibly for the end of this year says Koponen.