Circle: The Local Network
Have you heard about Circle yet?
The idea behind Circle is that it
“shows you what’s happening nearby right now, anywhere you go. Like an insider’s guide to everywhere, Circle tells you what you need to know right now about what is going on around you.”
The app finds your local position – so “Nottingham” was selected for me. I can’t choose anywhere else to look at. I’m presented with a list of posts – similar to Twitter – all from people in the local area. By local, I mean anyone who’s posted nearest to you (so if you’re somewhere outside a larger city, like Mansfield – my local posts are for people 33 – 45km away) not quite as useful when I posted a question asking “where is good to eat around here?” and my response came from someone 15km away and potentially somewhere in Sheffield – not really useful for someone residing in Nottingham.
Circle itself is quite beautifully designed – with an iOS 7 feel to it. A big emphasis is placed on bright colour and a light glassy feel, with the use of modern UI buttons. Unfortunately, it feels as though a lot of the emphasis has been placed on the look and feel of the app, rather than the user experience. On loading Circle, I’m shown a whole host of statuses all along the lines of “This app is so confusing. I don’t get it?”
After having a quick look at their website and reading the FAQ’s – there is a lot more functionality behind the site than you first notice, but I feel the usefulness of the site has been placed as a secondary value to the actual design and unfortunately the two don’t marry up together – which is proven through the confusion expressed in the updates users are posting. I must admit, when writing my first update – I couldn’t think of anything to write that would be useful, I even started with “This app is confusing” before stopping myself, to write something more relevant.
The functionality behind the app is a great idea and could prove to be a very handy app to have if you had a weekend free and fancied a trip to a new city. Being able to find out what’s happening in that area within a certain budget or time frame would be useful too, but not actually an option.
The potential is great – After reading around the Circle website, I would expect to see small businesses promoting an opening event or a sale to capture anyone who’s visiting or lives in the area. I can imagine it being handy to find out what Christmas events are occurring in the city that I could take my friends and family to. Or, maybe a bit more far fetched, creating a community spirit where other people will help other people – so if I’m stranded somewhere and need help jump starting my car, it would be nice to put out a call on Circle to see if someone can help. If you really wanted to, you can become a Community Ambassador – where you can recommend the most relevant content, help remove inappropriate community member and content and even get first access to updates from the Circle team. It’s a nice idea to help making the app kick off in a certain area – but it’s a shame these benefits and functionality aren’t called out as soon as you open the app. It feels as though the user is left to find their own way and to figure out the point of the app on their own.
All in all, its a beautiful app with a great concept however the usefulness at this point is lacking. Until it can make the functionality really clear to the user and offer more in the way of things to do in your area, I don’t think we’ll see the app really take off in the UK.