Israeli Tech: New Takes on Classic Interactions
About Israeli Tech: The ‘Israeli Tech’ column is a forum for both in-depth explorations of specific start-ups, as well as broader, industry-based analyses. It not only enables readers to learn about and appreciate the tech wonders that have emerged from Israel in the past, but also provides a glimpse of the technology being developed today that may change our lives in the future.
Phone calling and customer service are two forms of interaction that haven’t undergone any innovation or updating in many years, and can even be frustrating at times for users. Two Israeli start-up companies, Yallo and Xprt are attempting to revolutionize phone calling and customer service respectively, and make these more efficient and enjoyable services.
With the advent of texting, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp, it should come as no surprise that phone calling has fallen by the wayside. Israeli tech company Yallo is attempting to revolutionize the phone call by adding fun and innovative features to the decades-old method of communication. The company, based in Tel Aviv, was founded in 2012 by Tal Elyashiv and Yosi Taguri and currently has fifteen employees. In an interview with tech site Geektime, Yallo’s CEO Tal Elyashiv remarked that his plans for the future include “continuing to innovate and bring the phone call into the 21st century, for both personal and B2B use.” In explaining why he thinks Yallo will become a success, Elyashiv pointed to the fact that “voice communications have not fulfilled their potential and could undergo as much innovation as texting platforms like WhatsApp have done…” Yallo is already live on the Google Play app store and is coming soon to Apple’s App Store.
Included in Yallo’s product are a whole host of features that that are radically different than the phone calling we know of today. Among the usages of Yallo are firstly that the app automatically re-connects dropped calls, which helps users avoid those few moments of uncertainty when each person doesn’t know who is calling the other one back. Secondly, the app provides the ability to save calls and search through them later, using keywords and phrases. Additionally, Yallo enables users to send an advance notice called ‘Call Caption’ that informs someone why you’re about to call them, and allows users to add extra numbers to a Yallo account, say if you want to have different home and cell phone numbers, or add an international number. In terms of its more fun usages, Yallo allows users to make group calls with existing groups from apps like WhatsApp.
Yallo certainly contains some great ideas - ideas that should’ve been implemented into phone call capabilities long ago - but with the popularity of text messaging, multimedia messaging, and apps like Snapchat, it will be difficult for a phone service, as good as this one may be, to rekindle the seemingly ancient phone call.
A second company, Xprt, is seeking to transform the computer and hardware purchasing experience. Ariel Rosenthal and Uri Katz, the two Israelis who started the company, each have immense experience programming and designing software. Their app, which is available for a free download via the Apple App Store, will provide users the dual functions of computer support, and computer shopping advice. After filling out a short form, users are connected with an experienced professional in under five minutes, and interact with the professional through a live chat. If they are seeking advice on what computer to purchase, they can fill out short forms indicating their price and size preferences, and any other specifics that they are looking for in their new computer. Xprt’s services are free, and when you finish receiving advice on the app, you are asked to rate your expert and also have the option to tip your expert. While obviously a small sample size, the nineteen reviews that the app has received so far on Apple’s App Store indicate that users are happy with this new take the classic customer service interaction.