Launched last year, the startup has historically used a browser plug-in to let users see relevant activity from friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social channels as they search on Google, Bing and other sites from their desktops.
This week, Wajam is rolling out a feature that brings similar functionality to the iPhone. Starting Tuesday, iOS users can visit the company’s website from their smartphones to download a Wajam profile (not an app) that allows the company to surface friends’ recommendations directly in Google Maps and Safari. By adding a new profile (something usually done by enterprise or corporate users for security or other reasons), Wajam configures the iPhone to enable more advanced cross-app communication.
“We think that apps should be able to communicate between each other,” said CEO and founder Martin-Luc Archambault. “We’d like to see more apps using the same technology we are using to enhance users’ experiences on mobile phones.”
Once a user installs the Wajam profile and authorizes it to access information from his social accounts, he could search Google Maps for hotels and instantly see locations mentioned by friends. Similarly, he could use Safari and, with a special “friends” tab added by Wajam,” view places that his friends have checked in or commented on.
Instead of forcing users to search for locations and items recommended by friends in Foursquare, Facebook and Google+, it allows them to see all possibilities at once, in the environments they’ve traditionally used for search.
“We consider ourselves “neutral” and believe that users shouldn’t have to “change the way they do things” to make social search work,” said Archambault.
In the past year, social search has become an increasingly hot topic, with Google’s launch of Search Plus Your World and Bing’s Facebook and Twitter integration. Given all the possible social signals out there, those services feel somewhat limited but, as a third-party, Wajam can mash-up social signals from all of the biggest players to give users a one-stop shop for social search.
Still, while Wajam’s tactic of going through the iPhone’s profile settings is clever, users may feel a little wary of installing new software in an untraditional way. Also, even though Wajam offers a more comprehensive social search experience, privacy-conscious users may have to get comfortable with sharing all their social information with an emerging startup.
Wajam’s mobile feature is currently ad-free (and users don’t need to pay to download the service), but ultimately the company could match friend recommendations to advertisers to make money. Through its browser integration, Wajam brings social search to a number of sites including the major social networks, Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Shopping.com and Walmart. Users can also search directly from its website. The company says it has indexed 2.7 billion recommendations and logs tens of millions of searches daily.