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Don’t Mesh With Me! Does Jott Messenger Signal The End of Snapchat?

jott-logo-2Think you’ve got a handle on your teen’s texting app? Do you think SnapChat, Kik, WhatApps and iMessage are the lone survivors of the texting wars?  Guess again. There’s a new sheriff in teen town called Jott that’s taking junior and high school students by storm.

In an app world of over 1.5 million Jott Messenger, has been adding 15,000 – 20,000 users per day and is now one of the top 75 IOS apps for social netwoworking — with over 500,000 active users –most of them junior and high school students.

WHY IS THIS APP POPULAR?

Why?  There’s no requirement to have a data plan or phone numbers. This feature known as AirChat™ means users can chat with nearby friends without wi-fi or cellular data.

Any teen with an ipod, ipad or other device on a closed network can text friends for free if they are within a 100-foot area at a school  or other similarly populated area. Like other apps, if they have access to wi-fi or a carrier’s service they can text the world.

According to a recent Pew Research poll, about 88 percent of 13-17-year-olds have a cell or smartphone. However, as many as 1/3 of those with an ipod or ipad don’t have a data plan. This creates a communication gulf between the haves and the have not’s. Jott evens the playing field.

Typically, apps such as iMessage or SnapChat use wi-fi or cell towers to route messages. Although Jott can as well, its secret sauce is its use of mesh networks that operate on Bluetooth and iOS multi-peer connectivity. This is a fancy way of saying “an Apple mobile device framework” that uses both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to connect devices. However, Jott doesn’t stop there — it works on Android devices as well.

WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?

In short, much like a car plays your phone’s music playlist through Bluetooth functionality – Jott connects to other nearby users using somewhat similar technology. Each device using Jott becomes much a like a mini transmitter – routing traffic from one device to another.

PRIVACY

Although anyone can use the app, Jott does a relatively good job of managing the registration process. To register, you must provide an email or phone number and full name.  To that end, the “creepy guy down the street” supposedly can’t easily create an account and start talking with teens. Although, in reality nothing would stop said “creepy guy” from creating an account with a bogus name.

If you’re a student, the app provides a list of schools near your location. You may simply select your school to join that network. Although you can lie, students can monitor the users on that network and essentially lobby Jott to “kick you off the island” if you’re an imposter.

Additionally. much like SnapChat, Jott provides screen shot detection and disappearing photos and chats. While that might provide some protection – as we’ve learned from SnapChat – be wary of such claims.

SO WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS?

On the surface, Jott appears to be an ingenious technology that starts to level the playing field for those that either can’t afford, or choose not to pay for a data or texting plan.

And while they have taken steps to protect teens from themselves by providing disappearing text and photos, sometimes teens are too trusting of both the technology and those with whom they associate. However, Jott is a step in the right direction.

Lastly, one must always ask, “Why do I get to use this app for free?”

Although Jott’s Founder and CEO Jared Allgood has not yet revealed how he plans to monetize his app, you can bet a good portion of any future revenue will come from user data being bought and sold.  As such, understand that in a recent trial by Symantic, one-third of all mobile apps scanned leaked SIM card information such as address book details, mobile PIN numbers and call history. Additionally, roughly 13 percent of Android apps sent a user’s phone number off the device. Will this be true for Jott? Stay tuned.

HOW DO I RATE JOTT MESSENGER?

I give Jott:

  • A Thumbs up for innovative technology.
  • A Thumbs up for ease of use.

I’ll hold off rating privacy until more information is released in the months to come.

In the meantime, if you are managing your child’s digital activity on a daily basis, I think you’ll find that Jott can be a useful communication tool for your son or daughter… but like most things in life, it’s not without its potential issues if misused.

Just ask last year’s SnapChat users.

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