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New App Steven Says It With Emojis

Location Tracking Just Got Adorable

Emojis are, quietly, becoming the next big thing in mobile messaging. Those who despaired at the spread of acronyms that happened at the dawn of SMS messaging will be wailing and gnashing their teeth at this latest development, which sees words replaced entirely by adorable little pictures. There are already two emoji-only social networks available, and Japanese messaging app Line has built a strong revenue stream from the monetising of emojis and stickers within its service.

Now Abdur Chowdhury, a former chief scientist from Twitter, is getting in on the act with debut of a location-based emoji app called Steven (apparently named after a cat, which may tell you absolutely everything you need to know).

Steven’s unique selling point (the app, not the cat) is the way in which it is based around individual activities and movements. The app works by quietly logging your location, and then suggesting an appropriate emoji to let people know what you’re up to: a computer if you’re at the office, or some trees if you’re at the park. This is then broadcast to all your friends, who can comment on your activities – using emojis, naturally, or a photo or a brief comment.

Your location is automatically logged and noted by Steven, so you avoid the hassle and implicit attention-seeking of checking in on Facebook or Twitter. Since it doesn’t actually share your location, only an emoji based on it, it’s considerably less invasive than those services which broadcast your exact location to all and sundry.

It also gradually learns your habits, meaning that the more you use it the less you have to suggest appropriate emojis – it becomes an automatic stream of your day-to-day activities without the pressure to entertain that platforms like Twitter inculcate. Alongside this, it has what Chowdhury describes as an ‘ambient awareness’ of your friends’ activities.


The creators say that users are divided into two fairly distinct groups at this point: those who use it for ‘life-logging’ – keeping track of their daily movements, and those who use it as a more traditional social network – commenting on other’s actions and taking photos. Which of these groups becomes the more dominant will presumably inform the future direction of Steven, whether it turns into another platform for communication or turns into a Foursquare/Swarm-esque location-based service.

There’s also the potential for it to integrate other functions based on its records of users’ movements. If it notes that your visits to the gym have been falling off recently, for instance, it could send you an adorable emoji reminder to wobble down there at some point this week. In addition, the monetisation options for an app with this kind of data are clear; users who frequent the cinema or bowling alley could receive appropriately targeted ads.

So laying aside the fact that Steven is fairly silly name for an app (as well as being a bad name for a cat, but that’s a whole other issue), this seems like a harmless and rather fun addition to the plethora of emerging social media apps. In addition, the reduced necessity of engagement means that users could stay engaged longer than with those platforms which require more direct and sustained activity.


Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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New App Steven Says It With Emojis Reviewed by Douglas Clarke-Williams on Monday, September 08, 2014 Rating: 5
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