If you check out the social networking section in the Android or iOS app stores, you’ll find thousands of apps vying for your attention. One such app, Roamz, is a bit different, though. Instead of merely another social network to blast your life’s story (and in turn blast across other social networks), Roamz works as both a mini-social network and local discovery app. While you do log in to Roamz and have an account of sorts, there isn’t any friends list to manage. The real magic of Roamz is finding information, not necessarily bothering yourself with friend management.
Realizing that social networking and how we share it was broken came from the mastermind of a friendly Australian by the name of Johnathan Barouch. For Barouch, Roamz is a fairly different venture from his first start-up that he founded in 1999, Pro Flowers, an e-commerce flowers and gifts shop. But despite the differences in customer focus, the same spirit of innovation and fixing something that’s broken, is just the same now as it was back in ’99. That said, in the ~18 months since Roamz’s beta launch (October ’11) and more “official” launch at SXSW in March, the company has already listened to and implemented a lot of user feedback bug fixes, and noted potential features for future updates. The start-up is very much alive and well.
For Barouch, Roamz wasn’t and still isn’t about spending hours managing friends nor is Roamz designed to replace the likes of Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter and others. In reality, Roamz actually integrates and works with other social services.
The biggest focus Barouch had with Roamz was to take a heavily fragmented social networking world full of endless noise, and condense it into a nice feed of easily digestible information. The second big feature of Roamz is that this social feed of multi-network check-ins, comments and photos is all based on location. While following and commenting on other friends’/users’ social postings about local events even when you’re thousands of miles away is routinely done and fun, it can become overwhelming. Finding local information about the hot new club, restaurant or store is lost in a sea of social spew. Grouping what’s relevant is a tough task, and it’s a task that Barouch feels Roamz excels at over competing social networking and location based apps.
So Roamz is a unique twist on local discovery now. What about the future? Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter (and more) are constantly updating their apps (scratch Twitter out of that) with new features, improved UIs and more socially apt features. How is Roamz going to adapt moving forward?
On our phone interview Barouch and I discussed the recently revealed iOS 6 and potentially new features that could come in future versions of Roamz specifically on iOS. The biggest highlight for Barouch was the Faceobook integration. To him, having the native tie-in to the OS like Twitter received in iOS 5 is going to help make Roamz operate more seamlessly with the OS, the phone itself and the user’s day-to-day life. As for rumors regarding the next iPhone, Barouch only mentioned that a type of digital wallet like the PassBook feature shown off at WWDC would likely be the next big thing in mobile, and possible Roamz’s future, too — a phone that could truly replace your wallet with coupons, events and conversations all based on location.
But iOS isn’t the only platform Roamz is compatible with. Android users also have access to the unique local search app. And while Barouch seems to be more of an Apple fan (he does own an iPad, Macbook Air and iPhone), he understands Android is a very important platform (he also owns a Galaxy Nexus). For him, the deeper integration apps are allowed to have in Android make it more of a complete, seamless experience in his opinion.
For now, Roamz is a well designed and functional local search app based on location. But soon, a new update is going to upgrade that local/social search and make it easier to pick apart your timeline and multi-account postings. Instead of merely browsing a feed of random updates, commenting here and there, actively seeking out local happening will be more intuitive and easier. According to Barouch, there isn’t a set release time frame yet, but the team is aiming for a July launch time frame.
If you haven’t tried out Roamz yet, I encourage you to give it a try. For those dreading another social network to manage, Roamz is a hit as there’s nothing to “manage”. For those looking for deeper social/search, flipping through your timeline can still be rewarding, and will get even better with the next update. For a start-up that’s less than two years old, Roamz has achieved quite a lot already in making navigating your local, social world easier.
With his past past successful start-up and a future that is looking up, there’s no telling where or what Barouch will do next.