Thoughts on Yes Life for iOS

Model demonstrating making with an iPad + retro handset + Yes Life for iOS

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of attending the blogger preview of Yes Life for iOS. What is that, you ask? Here’s a Twitter summary:

Yes Life for iOS is like Skype but with a phone number. Friends can call your 018 number and you can take the call with the app.

During the event, Yes demonstrated the service by installing these iPad booths with retro style handsets. You could make calls to any number from the iPad with the Yes Life app. Pretty cool.

For a more detailed explanation, here’s a video that explains the features and benefits of the app.

While I’m not a Yes customer and am not using the service, here are some of my thoughts on Yes Life.

YTL Communications

First, I think it’s great that Yes / YTL Comms is innovating in the mobile communications space. I think they’re really shaking things up by unifying voice and data communications. It also doesn’t look half-baked or gimmicky – stuff like Maxis 3GTV come to mind that would fit that description.

I also really like that Wing Lee (Yes CEO) and Tan Sri Francis (YTL Group Chairman) appear to be very genuine. I get the sense that they truly want to make a difference, and they’re not just doing the job to cash out on stock options or retirement bonus.

Tan Sri was very happy that night

Yes Plan

I was extremely intrigued with the service. However their Yes Plan didn’t make it worthwhile for me to subscribe to it. With the Yes Plan, I would have to commit RM30 per month even if I didn’t use the service. Granted, the credits would roll over but it’s not true pay-as-you use. With my current DiGi prepaid mobile broadband, I only pre-pay to use the service when I want to.

The Yes Plan is designed to be used with one of their devices, so unless I purchased some of their hardware, the monthly fee didn’t make sense. I already have a mobile broadband dongle, the huddle was a bit too expensive and I don’t need the phone or router.

Yes Life app

I thought the iOS app was pretty good first effort. It wasn’t confusing and it worked. I would like to see a native, universal app instead of having to scale up the app on the iPad though. If the app lives up to Yes’s claims that it is 800% more battery efficient than Skype that would really be something!

Unfortunately the Yes Life app for Mac is much to be desired. First of all, it’s an Adobe AIR app – yuck. Second the app shows the inexperience of whoever developed it by dumping all the system files into the Applications directory (see screenshot on the right). Third, I couldn’t even sign on to the Yes network with the app.

I’ll admit it – I’m a Mac snob and I’m not sorry for it. Little things like this matter for Mac users and Yes needs to understand our idiosyncrasies (hatred for Adobe AIR trumps whether it actually works) if they want Mac users to talk about their app.

Should you say Yes?

In the end, the Yes Plan and the Yes Life service just didn’t fit into my use case. I’m not a road warrior who’s always working on the go so the dongle and wifi hotspot were unnecessary for me. I’m also a pretty heavy internet user and the Yes Plan price would be too expensive to replace my home or office broadband. And while very cool, the Yes Life app for my iPhone was just a little too unreliable. I’m also very frugal and buy stuff and services only if they are a good fit for me.

On the other hand, if you are a road warrior who needs internet everywhere, I think Yes is a good option. They’ve got innovative services with a wide network, and from what I hear – it’s a good network too.

I look forward to seeing more cool stuff from Yes. I think they will only get better from here.

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