Aardvark Launches iPhone App For Answers “On The Go”

Aardvark, which can be described variously as a “social search engine, “help engine” or “answer community,” has launched an iPhone app. It was many months in the making according to co-founder Max Ventilla. And with it, Aardvark arrives on what may be its breakthrough platform, helping to introduce the service to the mainstream — or at least iPhone users.

The site offers many entry points where users can ask questions: Vark.com, Facebook, Twitter, IM. However, the bulk of questions come in via IM currently. In addition, you can choose to receive responses via email. Until now Aardvark has been obscure to many people. But the iPhone app should make clear what the site is and does as well as make use cases fairly self-evident. Mobile was always one of the primary scenarios for the service, as a mixture of mobile search and directory assistance 2.0.

According to Ventilla the majority of questions people ask are answered within five minutes. That is consistent with my experience of the service as well. Ventilla said that Aardvark built the iPhone app not because the company saw growing mobile usage overall but specifically because its “power users” were accessing the site through mobile phones.

“People really like connecting with friends over the iPhone,” explained Ventilla. “We designed the product with utility as the primary driver, but it has a real social dimension on the iPhone.” That is further magnified if you sign in to the iPhone app with Facebook Connect.

Picture 103

Several months of testing with an alpha group of power Aardvark users resulted in several modifications, one of which was the removal of a planned voice/speech interface. “We built it but the added complexity scared some people away,” he told me. So they’re deferring the introduction of speech until later.

The iPhone app also comes with push notifications. Indeed, Ventilla told me that the app they built wouldn’t have been possible before the iPhone software 3.0 update, which includes push notifications among other features. And there are features that will be added to future versions of the iPhone Aardvark app that build on the 3.0 software’s capabilities.

Picture 101

The iPhone app becomes a kind of mobile archive for all your history, responses and recommendations. You can thus access that past restaurant or hotel recommendation from the iPhone app. This PC-mobile connection allows people to use both sides of the service: ask a question from home or office and retrieve the answer on the iPhone app later — on the go. This capability should contribute to its popularity.

Aardvark’s “secret sauce” is the machine intelligence that regulates, routes and mediates the delivery of questions and answers to the community. The marketing challenge, however, is to grow that community and usage accordingly. I believe the iPhone app will help do that. If so, once Aardvark gains increasing usage a kind of momentum will take over where users get answers more quickly, which will reinforce usage in turn.

If Aardvark were to succeed as a social mobile search engine it could become a primary or preferred tool for users seeking restaurants, things to do or other types of recommendations or answers “on the go” — the equivalent of word of mouth. It’s not a replacement for Google but for many queries and questions it will be easer to use than conventional search on mobile devices, which is still awkward and challenging in most respects.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Mobile | Search Engines: Mobile Search Engines


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide