YapDot. Available now.

I’m thrilled to announce that YapDot, the latest app I’ve been developing, is now available on the global App Store.

This is an exciting project I’ve been working on along with Jon Cox for over a year to tear down the walls blocking interaction and allow social nature to flourish.

So what’s YapDot?


Standing in the midst of a few social circles at Warwick University campus

YapDot is a mobile app that empowers communities by connecting groups of nearby people.

There are two basic components to YapDot. Users can create customisable Dots which form circular areas on a map. A Dot represents the footholds of a new community, and can be placed nearby to represent anything such as an apartment, music festival restaurant or hotel. When other users are physically located inside a Dot, they can Yap. A Yap could be a student asking if anyone on campus has a particular textbook, a local bakery offering a meal deal, or a building resident sharing a photo of a bicycle thief caught on CCTV.

We found that communities are mostly made up of acquaintances, not friends – like students in hall accommodation. Interactions, and therefore opportunities for community growth, are bound by chance meetings because people don’t go out to meet acquaintances as they do friends. Very often some would-be-communities never even have that reason for first interaction. Like people waiting at the platform and getting the same train each morning, or staff at different companies occupying the same building.

Ultimately YapDot fosters new connections between people who might cross paths often but where there’s never an occasion for interaction. Whereas Facebook is great at connecting friends, we designed YapDot to connect strangers who may go on and mingle further on other social networks.

Let me briefly show you around YapDot.

 A quick walkthrough

Launching the app displays an introductory tutorial and setup information, after which users are prompted to login. Unlike other apps in this space, YapDot isn’t anonymous. We use Facebook credentials are used for authentication, but only take the user profile picture and first name. We think that giving users an identity without compromising their full profile, and never revealing their actual location, is paramount to keeping the system safe but accessible.


MPs keeping their political murmurings transparent and public on they do

After login, users arrive at the home screen revealing their current location on a map and the footprint of Dots around them, represented by large colourful circles. Users can get started by creating their own Dots by simply specifying a name, description, size and colour. There’s also an option to offset the location to disguise the user’s true whereabouts.

Once the Dot is created it pops up on the home screen and is immediately visible to everyone nearby. Tapping on a Dot displays a pop-up with the Dot name and description, and users can swipe through the pop-up to to navigate through overlapping Dots. Alternatively, a list view shows all the Dots in order of proximity or popularity.


Sharing a pic from the traffic light party we found on campus!

Provided users are physically located within the bounds of the Dot, they can tap on the Dot description to display the Yaps for that Dot, with the most recent Yaps appearing up top. Users can Yap by simply hitting the ‘+’ arrow at the bottom and choose between entering a Text or Image content. Images can be uploaded from either the photo gallery or directly from the camera. The Yap is then immediately visible to everyone the vicinity to view, like and comment on.


Stumbled across a keen YapDot user..

The profile screen allows users to write a brief bio about themselves, to introduce themselves to new people nearby. If a user is interested in getting to know someone they have been publicly interacting with, they can request to Yap directly in a private conversation. Conversely, if the interaction isn’t working out, the profile screen gives the option to block all trace of the profile in case the user has posted annoying or offensive content.

YapDot’s moderation features extend beyond blocking users. Users can also remove entire Dots or Yaps from appearing at their will. They can also flag insensitive content which will then be auto-blocked for everyone if there is wider consensus on the nature of the content.

At the bottom of the home screen is a window that cycles through all recent Yaps. Tapping it expands the view, after which the user can flick down an aggregated list of Yaps in all the nearby Dots. We call it “YipYaps”. As with everything in YapDot, it’s real-time and strictly location controlled; so any new Yaps pop into the screen as they’re posted, and pop out as soon as the user leaves the Dot.

Check it out!

You can grab YapDot for free provided you have any iOS device running iOS 9.0 onwards (no plans to write for Android, sorry!). If there aren’t any Dots near where you are, why not create one to share something interesting with your local community!

I’m writing up another post explaining the technical details of YapDot and some of the technologies we incorporated.  In the meantime, please download it and hit us up with any feedback! We’d really like to hear from you.


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