Quora for iPhone: Great, Quora for iPad: Mind-blowing

September 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

By: Michael Sinanian

Quora for iPhone is finally out. After beta testing it for two months, I wrote a generally positive review for VentureBeat.

It covers the whole app experience if you’re curious before jumping in. But there’s some more I didn’t get to expand on in the review: the iPad app.

No, I’m not actually aware of a functioning iPad app prototype. Yes, I did phrase that to catch your attention.

But now that I have it…

In his take, Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb makes the criticism that the app should be available on the iPad, now. I totally agree.

I trust that Quora will eventually get around to it, but it can’t come any sooner!

There are two main reasons to tackle the iPad app:

  1. the iPad and Quora are both habit-forming: talk to any iPad user, they’ll tell you how they’ve formed habits around the device. They’ll tell you how they take it to the bathroom with them, how they spend their last waking minutes of the day with it in bed. It’s a habit-forming device, and that’s perfect for Quora, a habit-forming site, to piggyback on!
  2. iOS apps are not merely portable versions of the Quora website, but enhanced and extended experiences that the web format by definition cannot offer

Yes, yes, we know: you can access Quora’s HTML mobile site on Safari. Big whoop. As mobile lead Anne K. Halsall mentions in her announcement, the mobile team spent time trying to figure out how the mobile experience could enhance and extend Quora, not simply replicate it on a smaller screen. The iPad offers the same opportunity times a thousand.

When the iPad first came out, a lot of people told me, “But it’s just a giant iPod Touch…”

And I would always respond, “Yes! But you never knew just how cool that would be!”

The same applies for Quora. Yes, it would be just a physically larger version of the iPhone app, but that opens so many new doors.

How awesome would it be to glide through the map on that big 10″ screen, finding topics from around the world, learning a thing or two before you go to bed (or finish your bathroom duties)? It is, by definition, a whole new way to experience Quora.

While the iPad utilizes the same capacitive touchscreen as the iPhone, the fact that it’s three times larger means you get to interact with apps in a way that’s not merely utilitarian. It’s deeply engaging, intimate, whatever you want to call it; hold an iPad and you know what this experience is like.

The Quora team’s not stupid. They’re aware of this and after they’re done celebrating the iPhone app’s success, I’m sure they’ll start brainstorming for the iPad. I just can’t help dream up some of the potential features.

If we think the Quora Nearby map features are cool in Quora for iPhone, wait till we see the funky new “question visualizer” or whatever they’ll cook up from the future. That’s not all, how about:

  • Visual-tacticle interaction with Quora’s geo-location layer: imagine the map zoomed out to display the whole world, with a real-time overlay of where new questions are being asked and answered: tiny little blips blinking on and off like thunderstorms viewed from space; tap in on a “storm” and zoom in to see what the fuss is about. A concert? A public speaking event? Just remarkable.
  • Visual-tacticle interaction with Quora’s topic ontologies: explore topic ontologies in new visualizations that truly reveal the depth of Quora’s knowledge, see how topics are related and view the genealogy of pure knowledge in ways Wikipedia or other content sites could never provide.
  • Visaul-tacticle interaction with Quora’s social graph: explore users in a beautiful collage or other layout we can’t even imagine that highlights all sorts of cross-linked relationships, zoom in and out, rotate, etc with your fingers to get a wrap-around view of all these interlinkages, tap on intersections to view what posts, questions, answers people overlap on: basically: visualize the social connections that underlie Quora and its content. explore Quora through users in a visual way that titillating

We’ll finally be able to interact with Quora in a way that only Stormy Shippy can offer a preview of for however long it takes to read an info-graphic. LAME. [1] We want it longer than that, and we want it in bed, and in the bathroom, and wherever else our iPads journey with us!

Don’t do me wrong mobile development team, don’t you do me wrong!

[1] – Stormy’s work isn’t lame. The fleeting excitement is what’s lame, because it’s not something you can constantly go back to and play with over and over. It’s static, non-interactive data visualization.

[2] – This is cross-posted from a personal Quora post.

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