The most popular opening gambits of a phone conversation are “Can you talk?”, “what are you up to?” and “Where are you?”. Jaiku, a Finnish startup that just left the stage at ETel, was started with those facts in mind. Jaiku adds realtime availability and location information to your phone’s address book. It came out of Beta with a major refesh of their client app and website today at ETel. I sat down with co-founder Jyri Engeström yesterday and recieved a sneak preview from him.
The client app is available for Nokia Series 60 phones (over 100 million deployed). Once loaded it checks the contact database and checks for fellow Jaiku members. Once members are found they are added to your network and their listing gains a lot of new data and functionality. It gives you the following additional information about your Jaiku contacts:
- Availability – Green if the phone is on; Red if their phone is off. Also lists phone status such as silent, talking, and ringer on.
- Latest Post – Just like on IM, Jaiku users can set a status message that can be viewed by any of their contacts. They can also route other feeds to their status message (like their blog or Flickr feed). This can be done via SMS, the Jaiku website, or their newly released API.
- Location – User’s location is listed as the cell tower’s name. The name comes from Jaiku users. The one for ETel is “SFO Marriot – SFO Airport” The cell towers aren’t geocoded (though that may come in the future).
- People Nearby – This shows other nearby Jaiku users (this is detected via BlueTooth).
- Calendar – What you’re doing next
The newly refreshed Jaiku website allows for management of your network, permissioning of your information, and merging of RSS feeds.
Jaiku is the first app that lets you bring your social network with you. It also helps you to get your “story” to other people so that they don’t have to keep interrupting you to see what you are up to, in effect you can broadcast your life events to them and they can choose to tune in when they are able. I love this type of app. As my friends will atest I send the occasional inappropriate Dodgeball and Twitter just to let them know where I am. The problem with that is the interrupt; I feel guilty. The fact that this information is available to my friends when they need it is very compelling to me.