CES Mobile Apps Showdown Winner, uCiC, Needs More Users to be Useful

Toronto-based Snapwise's social, location-aware app, uCiC, recently won best of show at the 2015 CES. CIO.com reviewer James A. Martin says the app is worthy of the award, but it needs significantly more users to be truly useful.

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At the recent 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, an app called "uCiC" (pronounced "you see, I see") took first prize at the event's Mobile Apps Showdown. The company that makes uCiC, Snapwise, came up with a cool concept, and its free app for Android and iOS is definitely worth a look. Unfortunately, it probably won't be a long look; until uCiC's user base grows, the app won't likely hold your attention.

It's a chicken-and-egg thing. A developer puts out a cool new app like uCiC that's highly social, and it completely depends on its user base to make it useful. The early adopters who check out the app inevitably wonder, "Where is everybody?" At least that was my experience.

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The app's concept is simple. You ask a location-based question, such as "How long are the lines to enter Toronto's CN Tower?" If uCiC users are near the tower and are so inclined, they can shoot back an answer, via text, video or image. You can encourage other users to answer by awarding "Karma Points." Users receive 50 free Karma points when they sign up. The point system adds an element of gamification to the app, and some users will no doubt appreciate the feature.

You don't have to be at a location to ask or answer a question about it. For example, as I sat in my San Francisco office late one Friday afternoon, I posed the above question about Toronto's CN Tower. Within a few minutes, I received two text responses. One said the line was about five minutes long; the other said I shouldn’t have to wait at this time, which suggests that the second answer was an educated guess.

You can see the real-time locations of other users on uCiC's maps, a fact that might not sit well with privacy purists. (On that note, uCiC's privacy policy says the company doesn't "share or disperse your information to any Third Parties.")

The app is so new that I found no users online in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston or Austin, and only one user showed up in the New York City metro area. Toronto is where the developer is based, and not surprisingly, I found the most users there.

If you want to try to get in early on "the next big thing," you should check out uCiC. I don't know if it will become that thing or not, but I suspect in a few months, the app could be a lot of fun to use. It could also provide useful information for news reporters. Only time, as the saying goes, will tell.

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