Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The magical algorithms running the Twist app take into account traffic, different modes of transportation and your own habits when estimating your time of arrival.

If you’re running late, Twist will text pre-determined contacts and let them know. You’ll never have to text while driving to get somewhere again. When you’re stuck on the train, as soon as the phone catches some WiFi, the app will let your friends know how much longer they have to wait for you.

Pre-set appointments and dates on your phone even if you’re simply commuting home or meeting friends after wor and let your loved ones know when you’ll get there. Twist, using your phone’s GPS capabilities, will text designated phone contacts when you leave and what time you’re set to arrive. If you’re running late, the app will send a new ETA to the friends waiting for you, along with continuous updates.

To the busy co-founders of the Twist app, CEO Bill Lee and CTO Mike Belshe saving time is a passion. As a seasoned tech investor who has backed Hootsuite, SpaceX and Zaarly and several other web properties, Lee says a tool to save people from waiting was necessary in the app space.

Belshe, a former Google Chrome engineer, is seasoned at making products that save people time. With Twist, Belshe and developers are making the process “dead simple” for users.

“You start off with destination selection,” Lee says. “We’ve really reduced that to a few keystrokes. It’s better than what Google Maps has today and better than what Apple Maps has today.”

At its core, the app is a learning machine. Algorithms keep track of how you use the app. After creating multiple “Twists” and checking off who you’re meeting from your iPhone contacts, the algorithm will learn your most popular contacts to surface them to the top.

“After you do these initial few tasks, you can put the phone in your pocket,” Lee says. “When you leave, that’s when you send the on-my-way Twist. It lets you know when the user arrives as well.”

The ETAs will be 90% on release day on Wednesday, but will get smarter over time, Belshe says.
Lateness is a problem we all struggle with whether the problem stems from our own busy schedules or from the rush-hour traffic that plagues our friends. Twist is a solution to that problem.

Anyone who has a text-enabled phone can receive your information. Though the app was built for the iPhone, Android friends can receive your ETAs.

“We’re focused on iPhone first. As an angel investor, I’ve learned you have to do it well on one platform before you do it well on another,” Lee says. “I think it’s a matter of the technology, being able to do what we can around GPS, and maximizing the potential.”