We had a chance to speak to
, the General Manager of Mobile at
Scout, winner of April 2015 Awards - Best Lifestyle App
Could you share a challenging factor of the development or marketing process?
Navigation has been around for a long time, even in mobile terms. In fact, Telenav was the first company to put navigation onto mobile devices. The challenge for us with Scout is to bring users along with us as we shift from the commoditized utility of navigation, to the specialized social navigation experience that we envision. We're focused on the connections with people, and the shared experiences, that go along with navigating to specific places. The use cases, ranging from knowing when your friend is *really* going to show up, to having to constantly text them with directions and other information, resonate really well with our audience and in general. However, people aren't used to seeing their navigation app embrace those use cases, and so both telling that story, and then delivering against it in a seamless manner, have become critical.
Do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms as well?
Scout is currently available on iOS and Android devices, and future availability will really be determined by the channels and platforms that consumers are embracing, whether those be other mobile platforms, or completely new technologies
If you could describe your app in ONE word, what would it be and why?
We're not just settling for being yet another navigation app, but we are going to be bold about where navigation needs to go in the future, and take daring steps to get there.
Were there any unexpected surprises post-release of your app?
We have been pleasantly surprised with the number of users who have been engaging with our “meet up" experience, particularly as we now realize that we didn't get it right the first time. We're working on a much improved experience that is less cumbersome and a more natural and seamless process, both for those who want to embrace it, and for those who might not on a given drive. Also, although we expected some backlash, we were a little surprised by the depth of emotion from some users who resented any intrusion on their core navigation experience. Even though it continues to be possible to use Scout just as before, without ever leveraging the new capabilities, some users are not happy with the presence of these options within the app experience. We perhaps should have anticipated this better – it is human nature to react to things you may not like, even if they don't impact you in any way.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
We're trying to build a coherent experience, rather than simply a set of features. As such, we anticipate focusing on improving the experience around connecting and communicating with people while going places, though we will.
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
We've advanced Scout's Meet Up feature as a way people connect, get together and go to places in real life. We've made the share your ETA experience available for many years now, but realized that it's only important when you're able to interact with that function with family and friends. By integrating communication, both voice and text, to making event planning easy and fun to discover – Scout makes getting together in person the most comprehensive real life experience for people on the go. With the addition of our voice-guided GPS and the capability to see everyone's whereabouts (in real time) and ETA pinpointed on a map, you and your friends will never get lost and will always sync up in real time about the events you care about, not the infrastructure that makes it work.
What is your favorite mobile app to date and which have inspired you?
I wouldn't narrow this down to a single app. There are plenty of inspiring experiences out there, and I like to give everything a whirl. I think a lot of apps would do well to learn from games like Candy Crush, which do a phenomenal job of onboarding and sucking users into what feels like a highly rewarding habit loop, even though it's actually just a time sink! Another recent app that I admire is Slack. As someone who helped build an entire company 20 years ago (ESPN CricInfo) using IRC (Internet Relay Chat) as the basis for global collaboration and in fact the initial product [CricInfo started life as a bot, like the Slackbot], I simultaneously marvel in bewilderment at the fact that someone turned that platform into a $3 Billion business, and really admire how well they've actually done it.
What was your main objective or motivation for creating your mobile app?
There are plenty of commoditized mobile navigation experiences out there, most obviously including Google Maps and Apple Maps. We believe that the navigation experience can be a lot more meaningful, on the basis that going places is often about the people involved and the shared experiences.
You can view Scout here