Blog Post

App Review: GyPSii — Social Networking For Digital Nomads

[appreview]
title=GyPSii
image=https://gigaom.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/1/2009/05/appicon_gypsii.png
price=FREE
url=http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=305089145&mt=8
rating=avoid
[/appreview]

GyPSii brings GPS-fueled social networking to the iPhone, but do we really need to sign up for yet another network?

Any effective social-network connoisseur will already have a bevy of accounts to frequently check. Aside from the regulars — Facebook, Twitter, and so on — there’s already a stack of networks I’ve tried and duly abandoned, including fading giant MySpace and location-centric services Dopplr and Brightkite.

GyPSii is a social-networking app for the iPhone which, similar to Loopt and Brightkite, is based around your mobile lifestyle. The app makes use of the iPhone’s GPS, camera, and on-the-go connectivity.

Navigating GyPSii

Due to the immense wealth of features and functions on offer, the app is split between several sections which, in turn, are separated into an array of sub-categories and menus.

appreview_gypsii_news

With such a large selection of sections, categories, menus and buttons, the app will prove overwhelming for first-time users. There’s no tutorial or first-time guide either, so attempting to get acquainted feels like being blindfolded and thrown into the ocean for a game of Marco Polo with several friends who insist on whispering.

The general idea behind the app — and the service — seems to be based around tagging places you visit, ideally with images, staying in touch with friends in the vicinity, and making new friends. There’s no clarity of purpose that GyPSii boils down to, though, so it ends up being a blur of user-enriched maps and traditional social networking.

appreview_gypsii_events

The News section, for example, features a compose message button and drop pin button, alongside sub-categories for recent events, friends in the area, local places and messages or invites. For one section to be jammed with so many different options suggests that the developers just kept jamming ideas in there, not knowing when to stop.

People & Places

Moving on from the aforementioned mess of options, buttons and pages — delving deeper into the app, it’s clear that GyPSii’s true potential rests in the People and Places sections. These areas of the app give you access to locations and individuals (friends and strangers) in your vicinity.

appreview_gypsii_people

The People section brings up a list of other folk in your local area. It’s an enjoyable and almost voyeuristic way of window-shopping through the locals, incognito, picking and choosing who to make friends with.

The Places section is similar in that it grabs a listing of nearby venues, buildings and locations that other GyPSii users have tagged. The problem is that the list comes across as a slapdash random catalogue of questionable curiosities. There’s no quality control, and it’s certainly not comprehensive, meaning that apps like Locly end up proving more useful in the long run.

appreview_gypsii_places

Having said that, iPhone owners with a sense of adventure may have fun with GyPSii’s People and Places sections. Assuming there’s an active GyPSii community in the vicinity, it could present some exciting options, particularly useful if you’re on vacation, or even moving to a new city and looking for new friends or places to go.

Summing Up

Using GyPSii, I can’t shake the feeling that, despite the app’s wealth of location-centric features, the service itself is somewhat redundant.

The obvious, but no less insightful, comparison is Facebook. With Facebook’s massive hive-like installed user-base, the first hurdle for any new GyPSii user seems to be convincing friends and contacts to download the app and register an account. And that’s all before getting to grips with the GyPSii app and platform, which is buggy at worst and crawls along like a confused baby at best. The app, like the online service, feels cluttered: For first-time users, it’s an overwhelming mess of menus.

There are alternatives, too: Brightkite and Loopt, which, while they may have slightly different feature-sets than GyPSii, are polished and have a higher penetration in terms of frequent social networkers.

Despite GyPSii’s best efforts to create a formidable service, the app isn’t up to spec, and the service feels redundant — as such, this is an app to avoid.

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