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Biz Stone: What Jelly can do for you

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jelly, a new social Q&A app, was released Tuesday
  • App emphasizes using friends and photos to answer questions
  • Ratings on iTunes are mostly positive, but critics claim app is "pretty but pointless"
  • App was co-founded by Biz Stone, one of the founders of Twitter

(CNN) -- The crowded world of social media apps got squeezed a bit tighter with the introduction of Jelly on Tuesday.

The social Q&A app from Biz Stone, a co-founder of Twitter, relies on photos and friends to find answers to questions that may not fit neatly into a Google search, such as, "What kind of flower is this?"

Sure, people can turn to their Facebook or Twitter feeds to ask which backpack to buy, or where to responsibly dispose of or donate old iPhone chargers (both real questions currently appearing on Jelly). The technology isn't new. Neither is turning to friends for help with everything from where to eat in Philadelphia to suggestions for an 8-year-old's birthday party.

But Stone is hoping Jelly makes this experience fun while helping users find answers faster. The dedicated social-search app is free of news feed and timeline clutter, while still allowing you to make use of your social network.

Ben Finkel, left, and Biz Stone, co-founders of Jelly.
Ben Finkel, left, and Biz Stone, co-founders of Jelly.

We spoke to Stone over the phone Tuesday about how Jelly works. His answers informed these instructions:

Using Jelly is simple enough. Open the app, connect your social networks (Facebook's platform app must be turned on) and users are immediately prompted to either look through pending questions ("7 people need help") or snap a photo. Users can add links and draw on a photo before sharing a question with others.

Seeing questions and answers from unfamiliar people? Stone says the app works much like LinkedIn, where "2nd degree" connections will appear. In other words, users will be asking questions and receiving answers from friends as well as friends of friends.

To follow a question, simply tap the "favorite" star in the upper right corner and notifications will appear within the app. But if you dismiss a question, you can't go back to it later when you think of the answer or remember you have a friend on Facebook who probably knows it.

Questions also can be shared outside the app and answered via the Web by people who don't use Jelly. These answers show up as "forwarded by ..."

Stone says in the future they'd like to figure out a way to connect names with outside answers, but it isn't a top priority right now.

Users can also rate answers to their own questions, and to other users' questions, as "good," and send virtual "thank-you cards" to helpful respondents.

So far, customer ratings for Jelly in iTunes are mostly positive. For a short time Tuesday Jelly experienced an error which prevented users from connecting and logging in, which appears to be the reason for most posted complaints. Some meaner critics called the app "pretty but pointless."

Some also have criticized Jelly's inability to sort through questions, see questions only from certain users or filter results. In response, Stone said that categorizing questions defeats the purpose of using your entire social network. But he emphasized that he's open to the wishes of the nascent Jelly community, and the idea of sortable questions is not completely out of the question in the future.

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