Omny is the latest product from Aussie startup, 121Cast. Clearly playing to their strengths in the audio space, Omny is an iPhone app and delivers a personalised audio stream based on your interests. While many podcasting apps allow you to stay updated with your favourite shows, this app goes above and beyond. It wraps your personal interests, from news, music and social in a gorgeous and intuitive UI. Simplicity is often difficult to master, but something done incredibly well here.
When you first launch the app, they do a great job of explaining what’s possible and how to customise the experience to suit your interest with a simple tutorial. In the Add Content section, you’ll find Omny has fantastically Australian roots with support for shows from the ABC and news / comedy programming like Kylie and Jackie O, combined with expansive content from across the globe like TED Talks.
The app gets really impressive when you discover you can connect your social accounts like Facebook to receive birthday notifications in your personalised audio stream. There’s also weather support, which naturally utilises you current location to provide relevant information, even when travelling. As someone who travels reasonably frequently, I would like an offline mode for those unconnected flights, but for those with a daily commute, it’s hard to go past Omny for staying up to date.
The best thing I like about Omny is the simply playlist it creates, which seemingly never ends. Just a simply swipe to go to the next piece of content, or a swipe back to go back through the playlist. It’s smart, its simple and its fantastic. If you have an iPhone, you should definitely try it out. Omny is currently free, but its not difficult to see how they could switch on a revenue stream with ads. This would need to be contextually relevant to you and your stream, as well as be careful not to cross the line into annoying.
Music lovers don’t need to be concerned about replacing music for news, as Omny does a great job of moving between the two. Imagine, news, music, music, news, music. It’s a great way to blend the two together. Being a modern service, they understand that we’re all moving to subscription based music services and have support for Songl, rdio and Spotify. We can expect to see this grow as they build partnerships with other services down the road, but as a launch list, it’s a very decent offering.
As you’ll see in the video below, there’s a strong suggestion that you’ll want to use it in the car. Again this is where the swiping to progress through your playlist worst a treat, it’s something you can easily do without looking or trying to tap small icons while navigating bumpy roads.
Another great feature is the ability for Omny to read important emails to you, as well as events from your Calendar. This means you won’t miss that important business meeting because you’re chair dancing to the latest song from Britney Spears.
You might know the developers from other apps like SoundGecko, but I know them through friend Long Zheng, who is another great example of a the unique blend of journalist and developer. It’s one things to sit back and watch the world be developed in front of your eyes, an another thing entirely to create a startup and start building products that will change people’s lives.
Congrats to the team at 121Cast on the launch of Omny, it’s a great app that is sure to get even better with age, just like a fine wine. It’s always great to see Australian Startups creating great products this country can stand tall and be proud of. Expect plenty of international attention on this one. As with any great launch, they’ve put together a pretty slick promotional video of Omny and you can check it out below.
Right now Omny is only available on the iPhone, but if you click the ‘Don’t have iPhone’ link, you can express you interest for an Android or Windows Phone version.