I resist installing most apps. They're often pointless. After the initial exploration of the app, you're left with a logo in your cluttered apps list that you'll probably not open again for months. I'd like to see the "ignore" rates for apps that boast millions of downloads, and then gather digital dust after month one. I've even uninstalled Amazon's app, even though I'm a self-confessed addict to buying on the move from the well-known purveyors of, well, just about everything. Their mobile site works well - I know, because I don't notice it.
That sentiment is, for me, the only true measure of the success of a website or app - it works so well, you don't notice it, and instead get on with what you want to do. When was the last time you noticed your belt buckle? Exactly. It does the job, you depend on it, but don't notice it and can walk around without your trousers falling down. Hopefully.
Anyway, back to Hailo. It's a taxi hailing app. A simple idea. You open the app, it figures out where you are or you move a marker to your location on the map, and it tells you how quickly a black cab can be with you. You can then hail the cab and view the driver's name, see their photo, their rating by other users and their mobile number. The map shows its progress to you. You can pay by cash, or with a pre-registered credit card, and "rate" the journey afterwards.
You know what? Unlike many of the "cool" and "trending" apps some brands and app stores want to foist on us, it works. It works well. It's everything an app, indeed any technology, should be - easy to understand, simple to use, and it fulfils a very real need.
Everybody wins, too - black cab drivers fill empty seats in-between jobs, travellers find it easier to find a cab, and, I speculate, less empty cab seat hours a year is, in a tiny way, better for the environment. There's a safety element, too - a black cab, hailed through an app with map tracking, strikes me as inherently safer than stumbling into a dodgy black cab on a dark street corner at 2AM. It's pretty useful if your train company keep dumping you at Raynes Park railway station, too, because the signals can't cope with temperatures above 20 degrees, and eight carriages of consumers are looking for a taxi.
So, well done to the people behind Hailo. Simple idea, well executed - let's hope it spreads beyond London and Dublin, and other app designers and brands take note of their success. Simple is often best.
By Duncan Parry, COO, STEAK
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