What the heck is Jelly?
Jelly is a new app (for iOS and Android) that describes itself as "a new way to search with pictures and people from your social networks." Part social network, part search engine, Jelly looks at first glance like a weird mash-up of Twitter, Instagram and Yahoo Answers.
How it works
The way Jelly works is actually quite simple. You take a photograph of something, write a short question to accompany it and then people in your network of Jelly contacts can attempt to answer it. You can also annotate the picture using a simple drawing tool, making it easy to sketch a diagram or highlight part of the image. Anyone who sees your question can send you an answer that you can tag as Good or reward with a 'Thank you card'.
The obvious use-case for this is if you are out somewhere and see an unfamiliar object. You take a picture with your phone, add "What on earth is this?" and wait for a response from someone who can correctly identify whatever it is. You don't have to use it like that of course and indeed there are plenty of people just asking general questions accompanied by random pictures or drawings.
How useful you find Jelly will probably depend on both the kind of questions you ask and the kind of people in your network. The nature of your network is actually quite hard to determine. You don't explicitly create a login on Jelly, you just sign in to your Twitter and/or Facebook account. The app then looks at your contacts in both and generate a network based on those users who also have Jelly, plus some of their associates. There is no 'follower list' to look at - you will just recognise some of the names that appear attached to questions or answers.
How questions pop up is fairly random too. You can only see one question at a time and once you have answered it or dismissed it it is gone forever. You can flick through other people's answers however and at the moment most people's networks are small enough that you see the same few faces and there is a faint sense of community.
Is it child-friendly?
There are relatively few people on the service at the moment and we haven't encountered any abusive behaviour. Any abuse or offensive images can be reported within the app.
Given the social element of Jelly it is probably best to treat it with the same kind of awareness you currently extend to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The service doesn't really lend itself to private conversation however and it would be hard for someone to use it for consistently abusive or bullying behaviour given the random nature of the question queue.
It is hard to know how useful younger users will find Jelly until the service matures. It may prove useful for homework questions or quick bits of advice and actually answering questions is fun and often challenging. It remains to be seen how Jelly will develop one more users join the service or if the app will gain any privacy or filtering features.
You can find out more and download Jelly for smartphone or tablet here.