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Yo is a mobile messaging application that allows users to send other mobile device users a text notification that simply reads “Yo.” It was created by Israeli developer Or Arbel as a way to simplify mobile-to-mobile communication.
The app was created by iOS engineer Or Arbel after Moshe Hogeg, the CEO of Tel Aviv-based social investment startup Mobli and his then employer, asked for an app that would allow him to get his personal assistant’s attention with something even easier than a text. The app took Arbel eight hours to create. Yo was launched on April 1st, 2014 and is available to download for free through the Apple Store and Google Play.
With the Yo app users can send a “Yo,” notification using only two taps, which the creator has compared to the eleven taps it would take to send a message reading Yo on the rival app Whatsapp. By double tapping someone’s name you can send a notification which will say “YoYo.”
Usage in Israel
Following the outbreak of violent clashes in Gaza, The Time of Israel reported that the developers of Yo and Red Alert, a breaking news notification app that alerts its users about incoming rocket and missile attacks throughout the region, modified the app to serve as a crowd-sourced early warning system during the crisis.
As of June 18th, 2014, Yo had gained over 50,000 users who had sent almost 4 million “Yo” notifications. The app has an average 4.5 star rating in the Apple Store. In less than 24 hours between June 18th and June 19th, the app gained over 170,000 new users. On June 19th, Buzzfeed published an article which collected negative comments about the app from Twitter.
On June 20th, TechCrunch reported that a Georgia Tech student, along with two of his roommates, managed to hack the app so that they could freely send Yos to any user subscribed to the app, which was subsequently confirmed by the company.
“We can get any Yo user’s phone number (I actually texted the founder, and he called me back.) We can spoof Yos from any users, and we can spam any user with as many Yos as we want. We could also send any Yo user a push notification with any text we want (though we decided not to do that.)”
Think Progress – People Invested $1 Million In An App That Just Says ‘Yo’
The Huffington Post – An App That Does Nothing Except Say ‘Yo’ Raises One. Million. Dollars.
Financial Times – Yo: The New App That Takes the Simple to the Extreme
The Time of Israel – Red Alert app offers a Yo! update on missile attacks