Have you ever found yourself somewhere new, and wished you could talk to the locals about their recommendations of where to go? If so, then a new app created by a Jersey developer is exactly what you are looking for.
Blabr was launched in Jersey by Balvinder Bolla, who got the idea while he was on holiday in Mexico earlier this year.
Mr Bolla told Express: "I wanted to get in touch with other people at the resort as well as locals and ask them for their recommendations. Not everybody wants to walk up to people in the street. I thought it would be nice to have an app where you can ask about what restaurants to go to or which places to see. It's all about connecting people locally as you are only messaging people that are in the same area as you."
To use Blabr, people need to login using their social media account. However, only a username, which they are able to define themselves, is visible to other users, meaning that no private details are shared with 'strangers'. Users can also define the area in which they want to receive or send messages, from 25m to 5km around them. When they move, the content they have access to changes and so do the users they are in touch with.
Mr Bolla explains: "You only see messages in your general area depending on the distance filter you have defined. The bigger the distance, the more people you are in touch with. It can be used for a number of things, for example, if the Police wanted to post a general message about an on-going incident, they could reach out to people who are in the direct vicinity."
The app also has a private discussion feature that allows users to set up groups with people they know. In that case, only the users that have been invited to the discussion and who are in the area receive the messages.
Mr Bolla says: "You can use this feature at music festivals to keep in touch with your friends. But it can also be useful for people who have the same interests, whether it's sports or charities, or people who live on the same street. It allows them to have discussions when they are all in the same place. It can also be used in the workplace so that employees can keep in contact. When they are out and about, they can reach out to any colleagues who are around to meet up with them."
"There are a lot of different uses to Blabr and I hope it will help people connect to the local community. Jersey is a fantastic area where to launch the app and test it, because it is a small place and community and people will be able to use the app only for their Parish for example."
Mr Bolla, who is a Business Intelligence Reporting Manager for Sure, worked on the app as part of their innovation programme, called Project-i. 16 employees applied for the programme and they were all given eight weeks to refine their ideas and test them to the market before presenting them to the Sure Board. The telecommunications company invested some money in Mr Bolla's project to help get the idea off the ground. If the app proves successful, Mr Bolla is hopeful it will receive more funding.
Mr Bolla worked on the app on his spare time and it took him about four weeks to bring his idea to fruition with the help of Hamza Malik, a developer based in Liverpool. With hopes to see the app used outside of Jersey in the future, he says there is still a lot of work to be done.
"What we launched is basically the core functionality of the app. We have included a feedback form so that users can leave their comments and ideas on the app. I am working on new features that should be introduced at the end of the month and the app will be continuously tweaked for improvements."
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