The opinion-based social utility Thumb, approaching its second birthday, has overhauled its free iOS app and added direct like/dislike voting to its core ask-a-question feature. The new 3.5 version of the service delivers tighter social integration, in-app messaging, leaderboards/rankings and an easy way to save likes or dislikes to your user profile.
The basic experience of using Thumb is "take a picture, ask a yes/no question." Whether it's a product, a restaurant, a vacation destination or a lifestyle choice, within a few minutes you can get opinions and comments from scores of your friends or fellow Thumb users. It's like a focus group in your pocket -- an answer service like Quora, AnswerQi or Yahoo Answers but boiled down to hot-or-not simplicity and tuned for speed and fun over detail and depth.
CEO Dan Kurani told me that the inspiration for Thumb came when he was among several recipients of an email from a family member. The subject line was "What do you think of this?" and the message was simply a photograph of an anniversary ring.
Within hours, the replies started coming in, and Kurani began to imagine how a mobile service might deliver real-time, actionable opinions on questions like that one. Thumb launched in July of 2010, and has been evolving since then as Kurani and his team tweaked the platform to make it easier and faster to connect with other users. While they originally anticipated a tighter focus on consumer products and shopping, the audience led them to widen the category set -- "It turns out that people want opinions on everything," says Kurani.