Asana, a collaboration software provider started by one of Facebook's founders, is now out with a rebuilt native iOS mobile app. The new app replaces a previous one that even the company admits was not up to par.
More than two years ago Asana emerged from beta, promising to offer a fresh approach to business collaboration that went beyond e-mail. Although the company claims its software is being used by hundreds of thousands of work teams, its mobile app was not offering the capabilities of its Web app.
Co-founder Justin Rosenstein, formerly a product manager at Google and Facebook, told Forbes magazine that his company "would see reviews all the time that Asana was amazing but the mobile sucked." In less open moments, the company described the previous app as more of a companion app -- with alerts -- than a fully realized one.
'Reminiscent' of Facebook
Brad Shimmin, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, pointed out to us that this sounds "extremely reminiscent of Facebook's own trajectory," in which that social networking giant was late getting to mobile, and late in getting it right.
The Asana app, version 3.0, is designed for both Apple's iPhone and iPad, and a revamped Android version is in development. No versions are planned for other platforms used by businesses, such as BlackBerry or Windows Phone. The new app offers features found in the Web app, including task management, search, calendaring, note taking, and there's a new interface. Users are offered a view of all projects on a given day, and they can enter any of them.
The company provides a free version for small teams, and then charges from $50 to $800 monthly for larger teams, depending on the number of required seats. The environment combines a collaborative notebook, social network, instant messaging and calendaring to create a working space.
Started at Facebook
A home page for a project or task functions like a social network with commenting, plus there's the ability to follow a thread, set a deadline, and grant access to outside collaborators.
Shimmin noted that it's harder these days for a collaboration software company to carve out a niche, since there are so many players, including collaborative environments from major tech companies like Microsoft.
Asana was initially developed during the days when co-founder Dustin Moskovitz was still at Facebook, which he helped start. He has told news media that instead of relying on e-mail, he tried to build a more collaborative space for Facebook projects as early as 2007. He left Facebook the next year to start Asana. The early version of Asana is apparently still in use at Facebook.
Interestingly, there are reports that Facebook is working on a new version of its own software that is designed for businesses. This "at-work" version will reportedly draw on the social networking site's ease-of-communication, while adding spaces and tools for tasks and projects. The reports indicate that the working title of the new product is FB@Work.