"Jelly" has been a closely guarded secret since it was first teased by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone on April Fools Day. It's managed to pull in hugely prominent investors and awed press, based on literally nothing more than the word "Jelly." Now, it has revealed itself. It's a way to ask your friends questions.
Watch the video above and be not amazed. Watch as, for the first time ever, a dude takes a picture of a tree in the woods and sends it to someone else because he doesn't know what he's looking at—Yahoo! Answers for the bourgeoisie.
Have you ever posted on Facebook, asking if anyone knows a good barber? Or tweeted to your followers asking if "House of Cards" is any good? That's Jelly—a search engine that uses your friends—only more convoluted than ever before:
Say you're walking along and you spot something unusual. You want to know what it is so you launch Jelly, take a picture, circle it with your finger, and type, "What's this?" That query is submitted to some people in your network who also have Jelly. Jelly notifies you when you have answers.
Based on messages that boil down to Bwuhhh what is this thing?, Jelly says "it's not hard to imagine that the true promise of a connected society is people helping each other." This truly is a revolution in engorged, cloying, dumbstruck rhetoric, a true disruption of horse shit. With Jelly, "you can crop, reframe, zoom, and draw on your images to get more specific"—you can also do that with countless other apps. But that doesn't matter—this is a vanity project, remember. It's an opportunity for Biz Stone to Vimeopine on the nature of human knowledge, interconnectedness, and exotic flora. It's an app for the sake of apps—a software Fabergé egg.
It doesn't matter that there are countless other ways to ask your friends questions. Those apps aren't Jelly. Those other technologies, like "text messaging" or "sending an email" or "asking a police officer on the street" weren't kept in "stealth mode" for a year, while TechCrunch tried to cross its legs over throbbing anticipation. Anyone can have a good idea—but do most startups have the cachet of a Twitter founder, or Bono as an investor? Will "asking people shit" ever be the same, now that we've waited over a year to meet this new platform of smartphone shit-asking? Maybe there are some questions not even Jelly can answer.