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Summary:

The Twist app for iOS helps you share your estimated time of arrival with friends and colleagues, so they’re current on when they should expect you. The app uses your location and current traffic data to communicate an accurate arrival time.

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My wife tells me she’ll meet me at a certain time, but she’s often a little too optimistic about when she can depart and how much time she’s set aside to get there. But a new app might just solve our problem.

The Twist app for iOS helps you share your estimated time of arrival with friends and colleagues, so they have an up-to-date sense of when they should expect you. The app uses your location and current traffic data to communicate an accurate arrival time. But it doesn’t start broadcasting your ETA until you leave.

The company, founded by serial entrepreneur and investor Bill Lee and Mike Belshe, an original Google Chrome team member,  just raised $6 million in funding from Bridgescale Partners and a number of other investors.

Users start a Twist by identifying where they are headed, which can be either a place or an address. The app plots a route for them by car, public transit or foot and provides an ETA. Users then decide with whom they want to share their Twist. The recipient gets a notice via text message or email when you leave your present location, as well as an estimate on your arrival time. Recipients can also request an update on your location while you’re en route. And if you run into traffic or stop off at a place, Twist updates your recipients on your new ETA. The app gives a notification when the user is one minute from their destination.

The service is kind of a mash-up between location sharing services like Glympse, which broadcast your current location, and Google Maps, which helps you navigate and plan trips. There are some nice touches like prompts to tell you when to leave to be on time, calendar integration which helps with easy routing to upcoming events and information about your destination. But the service has some limitations too. It only really works if you prepare ahead of time. You can program in favorite places, but you still have to remember to set a Twist beforehand to share your ETA. And it doesn’t work underground, which is how my wife and I usually travel.

I feel like Twist might be one of those apps you really wish your friends and family will use, but it might not be something you get into the habit of using yourself. Punctuality and communication are things that are easier to demand of others but harder to carry out yourself. But if you can remember to use it, Twist might be a nice way to be on time more often or, at least, it can help you be more thoughtful about communicating when you aren’t.

  1. Hartmut Schlosser Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Nice article!

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  2. Joshua Lippiner Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Why on earth did someone invest $6M in this? Is there a business model that I am clearly missing? This seems like a nice-to-have app, like Apple’s find my friends, not a full on business. This craziness has to stop eventually.

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    1. I totally agree, but at least it makes me feel like the king of the world, my ideas must be worse $20M with those kind of standards !

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    2. You could argue this is more of a feature than an app. Google Now is exploring some of this functionality. But they got someone to invest. I’m just wondering if Google can’t eventually do this themselves and add it to Google Maps.

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  3. we’ve Where2Boss? for a year which is identical and nicer to use.

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  4. If you are outside the US be advised this app is only available on the US iTunes store.

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  5. I love this idea and will definitely be downloading the app. It’s got a safe driving spin too because you don’t need to text or call anyone to update them – just focus on the road. My only question would be if it works with NYC subways. I can’t count how many times I’ve been on my way to meet a friend, then my train stops for no reason (well, sometimes the loudspeakers give a muffled, impossible-to-understand reason) and I have no way to tell them I’ll be late because there’s no service. I’m assuming it won’t be able to automatically update the recipients without service.

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  6. Why should I get this app when I have you rushing me? :P Nice concept but probably won’t be very effective. When you’re not around, setting up the alerts will probably make me run later than I already am. And babe, you have to admit I’m getting better at being on time!

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  7. Looks a lot like the app PigeonMe that does this for individuals and groups Pigeonme.com

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