Ringya RingS

The smartphone app is personalizing the classic address book.

Ringya ad (photo credit: courtesy)
Ringya ad
(photo credit: courtesy)
The generation that remembers leaving the house with no more than keys, some cash and perhaps a lipstick, now functions in the cyber age, together with those who were born into a world where one never leaves home without at least one mobile device.
The mobile phone, or The Cell as we refer to it in Israel, has become such an intrinsic part of our existence that it’s difficult to remember that we once conducted any semblance of a normal life without it. And although technology has advanced hugely from the days when The Cell was used solely to communicate telephonically, our lives have not been simplified – rather, they have become more complex, as we attempt to keep pace with upgrades, make sense of innovations and puzzle over the identity of the names in our continually expanding address book.
Not infrequently, I have added to my phone’s address book the names and phone numbers of people who played such a fleeting role in my life that, months later, I cannot recall who they are and why their contact information is taking up space in my phone.
But The Cell has not taken over completely.
At the other end of the technological divide, a typical family fridge is festooned with all manner of paper, from bills to the artistic efforts of preschoolers and, inevitably, lists of contacts who play a meaningful role in the life of each family.
Ringya is a smartphone app that reduces Address Book and fridge clutter by allowing users to snap a picture of lists of contacts hanging on the fridge – or contributing to the chaos on your desk – and convert them to a digital list of contacts on your smartphone.
The list appears on your phone as a group, or in Ringya-speak, in a Ring. The information on your phone replicates all the information that was in the paper list.
Says Kobi Hecht, co-founder and CTO of Ringya, “We began examining the issue of caller ID and asking why a caller can be identified only if he is in your address book. Why should a caller be anonymous if he isn’t in your address book? And we went from that to a concept that would allow us to contextualize the caller. By that I mean someone who works, say, as a bank manager might call me, only the context in which I know him is as the coach of the local football team. His name won’t help me identify him, but if he’s a Ring member, I can immediately see from which Ring he comes and what his role is within that Ring.”
Rings can be created for any group the user is involved with, such as the sports club, book club, afternoon hobby classes, other employees at your company, the local community – and so on.
Continues Hecht, “We found that the most common list type is your kids’ classmates and their parents. If you find yourself stuck in traffic and running late to pick up your son or daughter from school, you can access the Kid’s Classmates Ring – or whatever name you assigned to the Ring – for a list of parents and their phone numbers. Chances are you won’t recognize all the names and likewise, the person who answers your call won’t know who you are either. But the inclusion of both your names in the Ring provides the personalized contextual information necessary to ensure that your child will not be left abandoned at school.”
Although we all interact with a number of different groups, we might have only cursory contact with some of their members. Particularly useful for parents picking up their kid from a friend’s house is the option to first review details of the friend’s parents in the Ring, to avoid that embarrassing moment when you fumble for their name.
The major advantage of Ringya is that there is little to no effort on the part of the user to insert the information into their phone. “You can snap a picture of the list using your smartphone’s camera or attach a document – in any format: Word, Excel, PDF – to an email and send it to us. The contacts in each Ring are then processed and categorized. For example, if you have a Ring of all your company’s employees, the contacts are organized so you can view them according to department, position in the company, alphabetically, etc. You can also import contacts from your existing address book into a Ring manually.”
Once a Ring has been created, all contacts in the Ring are notified that it is ready for use.
You can then contact anyone in the Ring through any of the usual communication channels, including call, email, text and chat. What makes Ringya unique is that you can contact a Ring member even if the app has not been installed on his or her smartphone.
By default, all Ring members can edit the details of any other member in the Ring and the information is then updated automatically in everyone’s phone, ensuring that all Ring members share the same information.
Ringya can also be used to build a customized Ring of resources, such as babysitters, handymen and restaurants. For example, you can build a Ring of your favorite restaurants and share it with selected contacts. A contact who enjoyed a particularly pleasing restaurant experience can then add it to the Ring, and the whole group is automatically updated.
Due to the sensitive nature of the information contained in the Rings, such as the names of children, the company operates under a strict privacy policy. New users are confirmed through their email addresses and telephone numbers, and are provided with a code to confirm that the number is genuine.
Ringya currently has around 100,000 users and is available in English, Hebrew, Spanish and Portuguese. The app was recently recommended by the Executive Travel Directors, providers of logistical support to meeting planners.
Ringya can be downloaded and used at no cost but, depending on location, you might have to pay a small fee to convert a photo or text file to a Ring. Payment is done using Ringya virtual currency. You collect a number of Ringya coins when joining the service and can earn extra coins by introducing a new user.
Download Ringya for iPhone and Android from: ringya.com/what-is-ringya
The writer has worked for over 20 years in hi-tech. If you have a question about any of the products featured in this column or have developed a product you’d like to share, contact: patricia.jpost@gmail.com