With mobile browsing accounting for almost 10 percent of all web browsing, companies like HopIn, a San Francisco-based startup, are looking to capitalize on the growing trend. The company’s new app, WebNote for iPad, functions as an individual browser with built-in gesture-based bookmarking and social networking features. The company wants to give users a way to save details on a website while browsing on their iPad, which is then stored for them to share or keep private.
HopIn was founded by a trio that doesn’t have a traditional tech startup background, as co-founder Andres Godoy was previously a physician and research fellow at Johns Hopkins University. He had the idea while specializing in facial perception and eye movement tracking, and built a prototype, recruited his two other co-founders, a lawyer and psychologist, and began pitching investors before having the technical talent to build out the finished product.
“I was doing research in facial plastic surgery and one of the things we were looking at was eye movements and which particular details within a face our brains focuses on, so while interpreting that data I’ve always been fascinated and obsessed with technology,” Godoy said in an interview with BetaKit. “I started to think there’s so much value in the details…and I started to think wouldn’t it be interesting to also understand what captures someone else’s attention within a website.”
With two taps and a swipe, users of WebNote are able to save images, text, GIFs or videos in their original context which get stored into their WebNote timeline and profile, and they can then add in their own notes and share via Facebook or Twitter. With the idea of making web browsing more collaborative, users can also explore the content others have shared, while being able to re-save, comment, and mark posts for themselves.
It might have its work cut out given that with more users moving to tablet browsing, popular web clipping services like Evernote, Pinterest and Springpad have also caught on. Evernote has partnered with mobile browser Dolphin to offer an integrated web clipper, while Springpad offers its own clipper for Safari on iPad, and Pinterest’s new iPad app also comes with web browsing functionality. Not to mention Instapaper, one of the most popular ways to save online content and access it offline, which has its own iPad app.
According to Godoy, what makes WebNote stand out from the pack is that users are able to capture details as opposed to entire URLs, while also being a tablet-first application rather than others catching up to offer desktop functionality on mobile devices.
“Typically when you book something you save an entire URL, websites have a lot of content, with WebNote what you can do is save details within a website and through those details connect back with the original website,” Godoy added. “There are many solutions that allow you to clip and save on desktop and consume them on mobile devices, [with] our solution…you can save and also consume within the same mobile platform.”
Currently the app is available for free, and the company is looking to add in-app purchases and paid features, and plans to launch for Android tablets down the road. Given the wide array of options available for tablet browsing and clipping, WebNote has to compete with a wide variety of existing solutions, not to mention the default Safari browser on iPads. Whether its gesture-driven bookmarking interface is enough to draw users away from the services they already use remains to be seen.