Update: Alloy released its iOS version of Relay on Friday. Check it out by visiting the App Store or Alloy’s website.
At least once a year we perform the ritual of waiting for the cable guy and any other door bell ringer. The game is to wait for a unpredictable 5 hour window, at the whims of others. A Vancouver startup named Alloy has a neat approach for solving our frustrations.
Alloy launched a simple app called “Relay” that shares an ETA (estimated time of arrival) in a map-style, real-time format. Each message sent is also called a “Relay”, and it works using the simple devices we already own. Let’s say you are a plumber en route to visit a customer, but you gave your customer a 2 hour window of when you would arrive. Instead of trying to phone updates or ignore the customer outright, you send a Relay that shows the customer your location and distance. It’s sent by email or SMS. If there’s more data, it also shows time and jobs left until the customer is next.
The Alloy Relay app is free for everyone. It provides a key piece of functionality that can integrate with Alloy’s main platform when it launches in August. Relay is already available on Android and is almost finished being approved by iTunes. It could also be handy if you’re meeting a friend for lunch at a far away location.
“Uhoh, what about my privacy?” Alloy thought of this from the beginning. Each Relay has a default expiry of 1 hour and can be adjusted before it’s sent. This greatly limits access to your location and helps to prevent an all-out creep invasion. And although the Relay app runs in the background of your mobile phone, Alloy built in a “kill switch” that can turn of positioning even when the app is running.
Alloy was founded by Justin Long and Colin Smith as a platform to redefine mobile work. You might recognize Justin as the current coordinator of the Earhart DNA Project at Simon Fraser University. The two got together when they saw a need to engage mobile work from a team perspective.
“We refer to our platform as ‘Team Ops’, short for team operations,” Justin explained. “We believe communicating work is two-way in groups of people. The Alloy software is a central place for teams to collaborate on company jobs and then store and report on the data. It provides a social layer through an integrated chat system, and, of course, incorporates Relays.”
Blenz Coffee has been quietly testing with Alloy for the last couple of months helping to perfect their mobile reports. Justin entertained that more companies are also quietly getting on board as they further realize the cost benefits of moving typical operations to a mobile platform. He also explained that they have started packaging their application with commercial insurance to promote its benefits to young service companies.
Feature image: Columbia Pictures Corporation. App images: Copyright Alloy Technologies, Inc.