"Everyone's mobile, everyone's connected, so if you have a question, there's somebody out there who knows the answer."
This is the concept behind Jelly, a new search engine that uses social media connections to help you find what you're looking for. Co-founded by Biz Stone - the co-founder of Twitter - the mobile app launched this week for iPhone and Android devices (download it on iTunes or Google Play free of charge). If Instagram and crowdsourced content had a love child, it might look a lot like this: Jelly relies heavily on photo sharing, and taps a large number of Internet users - through Twitter and Facebook - to get its answers.
In essence, Jelly allows you to harness the collective knowledge of your social networks to find out what you want to know. But you can also provide answers of your own. Jelly's motto, "Let's help each other," speaks of community and character, something that's sure to resonate with those who spend any amount of time online. If we're going to have a direct link to everyone from family members to strangers, why not use it as a way to exchange useful information?
Once the app is on your phone and linked to your social accounts, you can use it to post a query. Take a photo, zoom in, crop it, doodle on the image if you like - all are featured tools - and type in what you're hoping to learn. Your question will appear to Facebook and Twitter friends also using the app, and you can browse whatever questions they have, along with those from connections once removed. Swipe your way through the question "cards" on the screen, dismissing the ones you can't answer and clicking a star button (not unlike Twitter's "Favorite" icon) if you'd like to be notified when a user has submitted a response.
Since Jelly is brand new you aren't likely to find all your friends actively using it yet, but friends of friends are, and that's more than enough brainpower to fuel the service. In browsing questions submitted by my Twitter contacts I found queries about exotic fruit, a breed of dog, optimal work habits, what to see in Nevada, and whether Amazon Prime lives up to the hype.
Jelly is handy and practical, but it's also entertaining, and what it aims to do for us makes a lot of sense. Isn't it time we lent each other a helping hand?