“What the heck is a micro-app,” you might ask? It’s the thing that Delicious founder Joshua Schachter (pictured) wants you to develop for smartphones.
It’s not a full application; rather, it runs on an app (Human.io for iOS and Android), and it allows you to quickly roll out a feature (conducting a poll, posting a photo, and so on) to users. You use the Human.io API; you adhere to simple design principles; and you gather whatever data you like from Human.io users, who are basically data-whore volunteers.
And since it’s a smartphone micro-app, you can take advantage of smartphone features and hardware, such as cameras, GPS, and so on. You can also choose to keep the micro-app a micro-secret, only giving access to users who have a special code.
It sounds easy and fast, and Schachter emphasizes that it doesn’t take too many lines of code to get up and running.
“The framework is entirely API-based,” we read in the documentation. “In a few dozen lines of code, you can render UI, upload items to the human.io server, and retrieve responses from users as they complete activities.”
Suggested activities include collecting wait times in lines at restaurants or amusement parks, photo-sharing focused on a theme or product (blatant brand pandering alert!), collecting ratings (think Instagram meets Hot or Not — really humanitarian stuff), or something as practical as a survey.
From the end user’s POV, the Human.io app is a way to participate in crowdsourced tasks, either for the common good or for a kickback from brands. From the app’s description in the Google Play store:
Human.io connects you to organizations that need your help with all kinds of tasks, such as completing surveys, taking opinion polls, rating the quality of different images, and more. You can choose to browse only tasks near you (e.g., helping out a local restaurant or charity), or you can lend you help to tasks anywhere. Every day you’ll find new tasks to complete.
“The code runs on your server, but the UI runs on the device. The events are gatewayed back and forth,” Schachter explained to the army of nerds over on Hacker News. “The ultimate vision is to make a way for passive audiences into active participants. We combined things we love: mobile, Mechanical Turk, MapReduce, and Twilio.”
Here are some sample screenshots:
“We need a lot of polish still,” Schachter admitted on Twitter.
Human.io is a product of Tasty Labs, Schachter’s software shop, which is fleshed out by staffers formerly of Google, Dreamworks, and Mozilla.