Ness Computing, a startup based out of Los Altos, California, was getting ready to launch its big product release, Ness, a personal search engine that provides users with personalized restaurant recommendations. At the same time they were preparing their release, the company found out Apple was preparing to launch its iPhone 5. Ness CEO and co-founder Corey Reese said in a recent interview with Heavy.com that he gathered his employees to have an internal discussion to see if they should support Apple’s new iPhone on its launch day. Reese said to his team, “Well you know, we got this big release coming up. I don’t think it’s right, but we probably should do that.” Without his knowledge, one of the engineers went ahead and developed Ness’ first iOS app.
The next day he came back and said, “Look it’s working! It didn’t take that long. Here it is! We can submit it to the App Store tomorrow.” Reese said he was shocked, and said, “It was the right call to make. Apple is very secretive about how it launches new products, so you never know when they’re coming. You don’t know what the new dimensions or requirements of the device are going to be, and if you want to adhere to those requirements, sometimes you have to move really quick to do so.”
Ness Computing scheduled a meeting with Apple to demonstrate the new software. Apple was impressed that Ness had its interface ready for the iPhone 5, and thought Ness iOS app was well suited for the iPhone 5.
Ness launched its first version of the app during iPhone 5’s launch day. Thanks to the engineers’ efforts, Ness’ first app experienced an incredible spike in downloads. Reese said, “I think it was something like 4 million iPhone 5s sold at the time our app launched on the App Store. We saw in our activity logs a massive rush of people who went and downloaded our app because Apple featured our app” Ness’ first app quickly gained the title, “Best App for iPhone 5.” Since its original release date, Ness has been hesitant to share download numbers with publications. Now, Reese confidentially confirms to Heavy.com that Ness has been downloaded 250,000 times since its original launch date.
Over the the last seven months the staff at Ness has been hard at work preparing for their second biggest product launch, Ness Version 2.0, which will be released this evening on the App Store. Ness Computing really focused on its core technology to make its personalized recommendation engine work.
Brett Westervelt, Lead Product Designer at Ness, describes some of the new features in Ness 2.0. “Up until now, you’ve had to tell us something. Our previous interface has a search box where you can type in a restaurant name, a cuisine that you’re interested in, or you can click one of the big cuisine photos and it will go and find places. Right now with Ness Version 2.0, we’re really excited that you can just open the app and it will automatically figure out what context is likely the best for you, and it will start showing you things you can respond too. It’s really more of a back and forth conversation. So, if I open the app now it can immediately start finding places and looking through them.”
Ness 2.0 also includes a rich collection of features such as learning which food the user doesn’t like, and removing those types of foods from search results. In addition, Ness will make it easier to plan meals ahead of time with suggestions. The new Ness 2.0 will display a brand new user interface based on swipe commands. Through Ness 2.0, users will have the ability to get directions to restaurants, book reservations, and review menus.
Westervelt explained that Ness launched on iOS because it’s been the easiest platform to distribute the app to the most people quickly. The iOS development platform helped Ness put together a quality product. “We’ve been wanting to hone in on what the best set of features are, and the best way to solve this problem of finding great restaurants. Now, as we’re getting closer to that what we believe is the right solution. We are starting to explore other platforms.” The company will continue their mission by creating a site that will work well on desktop, tablets, and mobile devices, including support for Android.
In parallel with their mobile efforts, Ness Computing is working hard at developing a Ness for web that’s designed with being responsive in mind, making it easily scalable. Heavy.com was the first outlet to witness Ness for web, and we can’t wait the rest of the web community to witness the great work that we’ve seen. Ness for web currently has no release date.
Ness 2.0 is available for free from the App Store on iPhone and iPod touch.