Technology has afforded millions around the world the opportunity to communicate in faster and more convenient ways. This is evident in the many telecommunication devices there are in the world right now. In the last couple of years, the focus has been shifted from merely providing a convenient and fast medium of communication to creating platforms that can be used for communication and gleaning information. These platforms are called social media networks; and there are so many of them in existence now.
The average smartphone user may have 2 or more social media networks on his/her phone. These networks provide up-to-the-minute information on events happening all around us via the accounts of news agencies and that of individuals. The problem most people face in using them is the process of moving from one platform to the other. One would have to close the current social media network he/she is on and open the next one.The process can be a little cumbersome (especially with slow internet). This is the problem a group of young guys in the University of Ghana have tried to solve by developing a mobile app called Xwiper. The team is made up of guys from various backgrounds who are currently running a startup called Origma. We spoke with Richard Mensah, a co-founder of Origma – the developers of the application – he had a lot to share with us.
Here are excerpts of the interview:
What is Xwiper?
Richard Mensah: It is an application that helps you maintain contact with the three most popular social media networks – facebook, twitter and instagram – on the same platform. Therefore one doesn’t have to close either of them to have access to the other, on Xwiper, you just have to swipe the screen to move from one social media network to the other. This makes it possible for users to do a lot in a short time than with the conventional applications. One can easily post a picture on all three networks within a few minutes and not have to switch platforms.
What is the major problem that the app solves?
Richard Mensah: Xwiper is designed to ease the process of moving from one social media network to another without having to close the current you are on to open the next one. So basically it saves time. In due time we will add more features to it. But as it is now, the app gives users full control over their accounts on these three platforms. It is very easy to use. it is a fairly small application – in terms of size (it is just 1.2 mb).
How hard was it for you to develop it?
Richard Mensah: A lot of work went into it, even the thought-process that led to the shaping of the idea. Another challenge we encountered during the development of the app was the problem of integrating Xwiper into the various APIs of the social media networks on our platform. Since we had to work with three different APIs on this project, it posed a little difficulty for us. Anyone who would like to build an app similar to ours must have a good knowledge of java.
How do users get notifications on the app?
Richard Mensah: When the user already has, let’s say, the facebook app on his/her phone, it is the app that would provide notifications. Nevertheless, the user can check those notifications on Xwiper.
How are you going to make money out of the app?
Richard Mensah: For now the app is free because we want people to have a feel of it and measure the impact we have made from the feedback and number of users. We wouldn’t like to do adverts on the app too; it is sometimes a nuisance to users. So for now, it is free.
What are some of the apps on the local and global market you are competing with?
Richard Mensah: There are a few of them out there like ‘Social Media All-in-One App’. Most of the ones that are already in existence do not have an attractive User Interface. Another feature that makes ours unique is the swipe: it makes for easy movement from one social media network to another.
How are you marketing the app?
Richard Mensah: For now we are marketing the app on the various social media networks because we have quite a large number of followers on social media (2000 likes on facebook and a 1000 followers on twitter). We hope to leverage this to market the app to as many people as possible. After 2 weeks of its release, we have had many downloads and reviews from all over the world – that is very encouraging. The problem now is that, we have not been able to transform all the social media followers/likes into actual downloads. Many people keep following us on social media but they don’t go on to download the app.
What are some of the features that you might add to the app in the future?
Richard Mensah: We are looking at adding a feature that would make it possible for users to post a single post on all three networks on our platform at once. Again, this is to ease the cumbersome process of having to close and open apps just to post on another platform amidst slow internet connectivity. Also, in the future, these three social media networks won’t be the only ones available on our platform. We acknowledge the fact that not all our potential users are users of the three networks on our platform. Hence, it would be beneficial if we could provide a wide variety of alternatives to suit people and their preferences.
Where do you see the app and your company in the next 5 years?
Richard Mensah: In the future, I envisage us developing so many applications that are not necessarily related to social media. Especially with the advent of the Internet of Things, we hope to develop applications that will enable people in Africa have control over their appliances even in their absence from home. In the near future, we hope to add new features to the Xwiper like ‘Schedule posts’: where users can schedule a post to be posted on all the social media networks on Xwiper at a time when they are not in the position to do so.