Penn to pilot app that will change the way your phone organizes its contacts


Humin uses contextual and social media information to streamline contact organization


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A Penn grad is trying to make your phone contacts more Humin-centric.

Ankur Jain, a 2011 Wharton graduate, founded a contacts app called Humin a year after he left Penn and will be using Penn as one of the app’s pilot sites within the next few weeks.

While phone contacts are normally organized alphabetically by name, Humin distinguishes contacts using contextual information and information from social networking sites such as Facebook. This allows the app to link contacts based on details such as where and when people meet or where someone works or goes to school. By searching “went to Penn,” a list of names will pop up for people who attend or graduated from Penn, which the app knows by gathering information from social networking sites, phone contacts and email.

“The most exciting thing for me about Humin is building a technology that thinks the way your brain actually does,” Jain said. “The information that matters is in front of you when you need it.”

It took the Humin crew — which is comprised of 30 people including an MIT professor and Mark Zuckerberg’s sister — a year and a half to build the product and put out the beta version of the app, which is now in the testing stage. The feedback so far has been very positive, team members say.

“There’s a natural viral growth already,” said co-founder David Wyler. “We want it to be a social operating system. If we accomplish that it would be amazing.”

Users can also make phone calls and listen to voicemails directly from the Humin app.

“We heard that a lot of people are moving the app to be one of the bottom four on their phone because by using Humin the whole contact app becomes useless,” said Mayank Jain, a member of the app’s Growth team. “The old app seems so outdated.”

Humin will launch at three pilot sites within the next few weeks — Penn, New York University and the University of Southern California — just in time for new student orientations, where incoming freshman are buzzing about meeting new people and adding dozens of contacts to their phones.

“Penn is one of the most international and esteemed universities. You get a broad set of students from all over the world who are meeting people for the first time and who can use Humin for a broad set of purposes,” co-founder Ankur Jain said. “Getting them on this product early is something we care about.”

The app has already received a thumbs up from Penn students using the beta version, who agree that Penn is a great place for the app to thrive.

“I think all Penn students would be interested in the app, especially incoming freshman,” Wharton junior Brendan McMamus — one of the beta testers — said. “What I really love about it is that it’s able to keep track of where and when you meet new people, which is especially helpful for incoming freshman in colleges, whether you’re at a frat party or a specific NSO event.”

When adding someone’s contact to the app, Humin records the phone’s location and exact time, so someone can later search for the contact by typing in something like “met last week.”

“If you don’t have it you’ll feel left out because it gives you advantages multiple times over,” Engineering junior and beta tester Shriram Sundararaman said. “It’s something that will catch on.”

To download the beta version of Humin, go to humin.com/private/DailyPenn.

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