Inq Mobile was once known as the manufacturer of the “Facebook phone” back in 2011. But in early 2012, Inq’s endeavors to build Android phones went bust. So it pivoted to apps.
As I wrote previously when Material debuted at CES 2013, the app recommends news based on what’s happening in your Facebook and Twitter feeds on a daily basis. And while your interests change every day depending on your activity, it can make those interests permanent. Material also “learns with you”: If you are reading a certain topic every day, it prioritizes that topic higher in your feed.
Outside of content discovery, the apps’s biggest asset is its colorful and intelligent design. Inq CEO and cofounder Ken Johnstone told me in January that he was previously the product and design director of Inq before he was elevated to CEO, so he highly values design. He said: “We want the design to be well done and the barrier to entry low. It makes the app very easy to get into.”
While Inq showed off the app at CES, it is now available to anyone who is fine using it in beta. Tom Mansbridge, the head of marketing at Inq Mobile, told VentureBeat via email that the app is launching in beta so it can test user behavior and make the experience smoother.
“The best possible feedback comes from real users, so we’ve launched on beta to get our customers involved as we evolve and finesse the product,” Mansbridge said. “We’re likely to be in beta for another few months and we’ll obviously be evolving with our audience during that period.”
It’s notable that Material is launching on Android first, as most apps launch on iOS first. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t going to push Material to new platforms in the near future.
“We have a huge amount of experience from developing Android phones, so it made sense to go with Android first,” Mansbridge said. “And with three out of every four global smartphone shipments on Android, we’re focusing where there is an indisputable consumer demand. Although the Android version is first we are developing an iOS, tablet, and web version which will all follow soon.”
You can take a closer look at Material in the screenshots below: