PhoneTag - Product Stars
Best products of July 2018

PhoneTag

Don't make phone calls when you can PhoneTag

Upvotes 38 PH Page >
Josh Miller
Hunter
hey folks, i'm the head of product at http://branch.com/company - the group of folks who built PhoneTag, among other conversational products. What's up?
Kevin Li
love the idea, won't most early adopters just use skype or any mobile im and late adopters just use voicemail?
Kevin Li
sorry not trying to troll, really curious how you are going to position this
Josh Miller
Hunter
@kevin i'm not sure what people will use or won't use. personally, i hate leaving voicemails – waiting for phone to ring, risk the person picking up, etc. – and listening to them. and it's hard to use skype when you're commuting home. FaceTime is synchronous which is hard.
Ryan Hoover
Yoyo, @joshm! First off, love the design of the app. Beautiful. Just did my first phonetag w/ @joshelman and love the experience. Where did the inspiration come for PhoneTag and is this another short hack like Friendlib or something you plan to invest in longer term? P.S. would love to hear @joshelman & @willydennis' take on this.
Josh Miller
Hunter
it was too spur of the moment (one week to build, one week to bug fix) to position it well, but we're definitely aiming at taking messages from phone calls more than texting/snapping
Josh Miller
Hunter
Definitely a hack, Ryan. Basically, we wanted to challenge ourselves (product-wise) in a new way. I realized I hated "calling" my mom, gf, etc. yet I have to do it a lot, so we thought, "Why do phone calls/VMs suck and how can we make them better?" Things like it being synchronous, lacking images, etc. immediately came to mind.
Ryan Hoover
@joshm - The feed of messages reminds me of @bencera_'s Context (http://trycontext.com). Which (if any) apps did you take inspiration from in the design of PhoneTag?
Ryan Hoover
P.S. I also hate calling my mom so I created a MessageMe group instead :) http://ryanhoover.me/post/62824922947/why-distraction-apps-matter
Josh Miller
Hunter
@bencera_'s Context, Snapchat, Voxer, Instagram, and good ol' phones.
Geoffrey Weg
Used to use a similar product called HeyTell a few years back. Surprisingly, a lot of my "normal' friends and family used it as well, but we all fell out. I wonder whether this concept is due for a resurgence—Phone Tag's beautiful design and photo incorporation can definitely help.
Ryan Hoover
@joshm - Ok, I gotta #realtalk. Why are you building these "hacks" (and I don't mean that in a derogatory sense) rather than focusing on one product?
Josh Miller
Hunter
Great question, Ryan, and I'm not sure my answer is the "right" one. But we're working on solving a single, very hard problem and I don't think our first (or maybe even second, third, etc.) stab at answering it will be the right solution. I think if you look at the most successful social products (Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) they all had these random attributes that serendipitously made them really special. Building smaller experiments around the core products (Branch and Potluck) allows us to get closer to things like follow/140 char and ephemerality/doodles (we think). See: https://medium.com/musings-about-text-boxes/84a80c62dbaa
Adam Lieb
Awesome idea. I had a similar idea written down awhile ago for asynchronous voice chat. Something I thought would help communications with remote work. Looks like the first focus is on general consumers, but I definitely see a great enterprise use case.
Geoffrey Weg
@adamslieb Check out https://getlua.com/. They're doing awesome stuff around mobile employee communications.
Adam Lieb
Looks pretty neat. I see what they are going for. I just really love the idea of asynchronous voice communication like PhoneTag is doing. I think "phone calls" are frowned upon at most startups I know. At least internally. They are usually viewed as time wasters. People often opt for IM or email. Sqwiggle is trying to solve this by making face to face/voice communication much less burdensome. I think there is potentially a place for asynchronous voice due to its low burden and speed.
Shaan Puri
Nice! we're building something v. similar as one of the bebo prototypes. It's true...aint nobody got time for calling.
plc
reminds me of an app i worked on a few years ago, Vimessa.
Will Dennis
Dope. Like this a lot. @joshm Why'd you guys decide on record-then-photo as opposed to photo-then-record flow? (thanks for the ping @rrhoover)
Nathan Bashaw
this is sweet, congrats @joshm and team! i got a chance to download the app and try it out and the most friction-y part of the process is that i can't hold my phone up to my ear to either speak or listen to messages. kinda breaks my "phone" habit. any plans to add that capability?
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