myBantu brings social productivity to Android and iOS

With new apps for Android and iOS, myBantu offers a compelling approach to social productivity and filtered search.

The concept of social productivity is gaining momentum, and I've covered some prominent social productivity tools previously on this blog. As a general sort of thing, social productivity sounds like a good idea. It makes work collaborative, emphasizes communication, and keeps everyone informed of a project's status. In practice, however, it's often noisy, kludgy, haphazard, and annoying. But after taking a look at new mobile apps from a service called myBantu yesterday, I'm a little more open to the notion of this kind of social work.

myBantu combines social to-do lists with simple, personalized search tools. While the search features aren't revolutionary, the results are generally very good, and appear to weed out a lot of the worthless results that you might see in a Google search. So, for instance, searching for "local seafood" will turn up top-rated results from Yelp and Yahoo, without surfacing any low-scoring options. This is good for mobile queries, since it minimizes the amount of time you have to spend scrolling past irrelevant results.

In addition to local listings, you can also enter a query like "go camping," and the service will pull up ratings for campsites over a regional area. This demonstrates some good contextual awareness in the algorithm. Unfortunately, the query "buy new shoes" flooded me with results for the band The Streets, and didn't give me any results related to shoe shopping, so there's work to be done yet.

The most interesting feature in myBantu, however, is the social to-do list, which lets you create and share tasks with your contacts via myBantu, Facebook, and Twitter. What I like about this feature is that it's considerably less noisy and unfocused than other social productivity tools I've played with. You can create a task and send it to a small group of people easily, without inadvertently spamming all of your friends and followers about it.

My main criticism of myBantu is one that goes for most social productivity tools, generally, which is that the interface is too cartoony and social-mediafied to be really practical. There are just too many boxes around everything, too many graphics objects waiting to load, and too much unused space that serves no practical purpose. All of this stuff makes pages load slowly and gives me the sense that I'm waiting for my productivity tool to do its thing, which is something I should never, ever feel.

Still, if you're interested in social productivity, myBantu seems to be on the right track with this low-friction tool that lets you dive in and get started without having to move your whole team to one system.

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Robert Strohmeyer

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