Important Update for the old Heello.com

Hello heello’ers, we are drawing very near to the launch of the new Heello. We want to update you on what’s going to happen to the current Heello.com so that you can plan accordingly.

Here’s what will be happening:

  • The current heello.com will be shutdown on November 16th
  • All current usernames and listeners / listening to will be retained and ported to the new Heello
  • Pings (including photos and videos) will NOT be retained. We will provide an export feature so that you can download your ping data. We will update when that is available.
We are very excited to launch what will become the new Heello.com and we thank you for support along the way.
UPDATE: Email noah@heelloinc.com if you would like us to export your old pings before the old Heello is shut down. Make the subject of the email “Export Pings”.
UPDATE: The old heello is now shutdown and the export period has completed

 

Replacing Direct Messages with Private Pings

Direct messaging has never quite fit into the scheme of what we’re trying to accomplish with the new Heello. It’s basically a messaging system within a messaging system that breaks away into its own flow. Last week we made a decision to do away with direct messaging in favor of private pings.

How private pings will work:

  • Private pings will be posted from the main ping compose box
  • The same @username syntax for replies will be used to address who the recipients of the private ping are.
  • They will be viewed inline with your @mentions and notifications timeline.
  • The recipient does not need to be listening to you in order to receive the private ping
  • This allows for photos, videos and check-ins to be sent privately and gives group messaging functionality

This greatly simplifies the user interface, api end points and backend architecture.

Screenshot of a private ping in a timeline:

How We Store Data

Hello ping’ers (is that a term now?), I wanted to share some of the inner workings of the new Heello. I know I like knowing how things work so hopefully this will be interesting to other developers out there too.

We recently shifted how we’re storing data with new Heello. The old way, pings, timelines and user-lines (basically everything except user data) were stored in Cassandra. Now as a quick side note, we love Cassandra. It scales easily and keeps data intact despite losing a node or high load. However with the relaunch we decided to use a different path to help us build things a little quicker.

In the new version pings will be stored in MySQL (percona’s build of course) along with account data. Timelines, user-lines and notifications will be cached and served from redis. Redis is used extensively already with Heello and it does scale well (We’ve used it in high load environments like Twitpic too). This also removes the step of loading data into cache since Redis itself is the caching layer. We can easily flush and rebuild a user’s timeline by republishing the appropriate pings.

Eventually long term scaling we’ll probably move back to Cassandra, but we think this solution will work for now and allows us to analyze our data and query patterns before committing to a more permanent solution. Another change in the new version is the language and framework being used. The old Heello was built on PHP and a custom framework called hub, but now we’re using Ruby on Rails.

Mobile App Screen Shots

We want to share with you the (mostly) finalized screen shots of the iOS app that we’ve been working on over the summer. The Android version will look and feel very similar. We hope you like them.

Feel free to email me at noah@heelloinc.com if you have any questions or comments.

 

Simplified Dashboard

We’ve simplified the dashboard on Heello with two tabs. Timeline is just that, a timeline of the people you listen to on Heello, but the new Me tab is the biggest change.

The ‘Me’ tab is basically a notification center. It shows mentions, new listeners and private messages in a unified timeline. You’ll be able to filter out certain notification types as well. The mobile apps will also reflect the same setup.

Dashboard screenshot

Check-ins on Heello

One of the features of the new Heello is a native check-in functionality. Our location db is backed by a global database with 58 million places.

Here’s what a check-in will look like in your timeline

Check-in

Hello check-in

Eventually our goal is to give you the option to notify your friends when you’re nearby and to see what’s happening around you. There are a lot of cool possibilities with this.

Developers will also be able to hook into our check-in / place API to build innovative things around. We’re really looking forward to this.

What I Want

I want to use a service focused on their users and not their investors. I want a simple and clean UI and if I don’t want to see ads, give me the option not to. As a developer I want a simple and robust API backed by a platform and company I can trust. I want to know my data is safe and that I own it. I want great customer service and communication, I don’t expect them to be perfect, but act like and treat me like a human.

I’m building Heello based on these wants…I’m also a user.

What do you want?…Tell me @heello or noah@heelloinc.com

You can check out a preview of the new heello and a screen shot

Some back story:

I started Twitpic over 4 years ago and I went the route of not taking investors money. Instead I used advertising as revenue, which can work, but it sucks and I don’t want that anymore. It sucks because most ads are ugly and intrusive and the money is coming from organizations that don’t really have the user’s best interest in mind, only their clients.

With Heello I’m taking a different approach. I know there will be some users who can’t pay to use a service and we don’t want to exclude them from this open platform, but for those who want to pay and support a service they use and love, we’ll offer a pro account. Free accounts will see ads at some point, albeit organic and as unobtrusive as possible. The ad system will be built in house and handled internally by us. I want to keep high standards for ads allowed in. Pro accounts will be ad free and we want to hear any suggestion you have as to what you would like to have in a pro account. I think this hybrid approach will be a good balance for everyone.

As a developer I’ve been on the wrong end of the platform stick as well. I want a platform that can support a thriving developer and app ecosystem, a backbone for communication that developers can hook into. With Heello a simple set of developer guidelines will be given which will mostly deal with protecting users and open communication between us and developers provided. I’m a human being too and please know my intentions are good with that we’re trying to accomplish. It’s going to be a learning process together as we grow.

We’ve been working on the new Heello for 6 months now and we have a working version already. We hope to release it in the next few months with your feedback in play, feel free to email me noah@heelloinc.com

“Social Media” aka communication has been the main purpose of the internet since it’s inception and it’s not going anywhere. I want Heello to be the communication platform I described above. The fundamentals of communication and sharing are too important to compromise on.

 

Timeline screenshot

Screen shot of a user’s timeline on the new Heello.

A few of the new things:

  • Profile cover photo (optional)
  • Simplified timeline view
  • Large image and video previews shown inline
We hope you like it (Click image to view full size)
Heello timeline

Heello user timeline

The New Heello

We’ve been working hard for the past 6 months on the new Heello and we want to share our vision with you. Check out http://new.heello.com to get a quick overview.

Some back story

We launched the initial version of Heello almost a year ago and we were blown away by having 1 million people sign up in just 2 weeks. We rushed that version of Heello out the door as quickly as possible due to a potential contractual issue (which is a non-issue now) and because of that, it lacked some of the big features we wanted to add. (As they say: if you’re not embarrassed by your first version then you launched too late)

Where we are now

The new version of Heello will be launching in the next few months. A completely brand new UI and native iOS / Android apps will be in that launch.

Developers will be a major part of what we’re trying to accomplish, so we’re putting a huge focus on our developer ecosystem. We want to provide open communication with our developers and a solid platform for them to build on with confidence.

Main features of the new Heello

  • Simple UI that focuses on your timeline
  • Inline photos and videos in timelines
  • Native check-in functionality backed by a global database of over 58 million places
  • A big focus on our developer ecosystem
  • Users will own their data

If you have any questions or feedback please feel free to email me at noah@heelloinc.com