Refresh is an interesting app which is part of the mobile unbundling trend (see: Benedict Evans). It brings together data from your calendar, LinkedIn, and other social networks to try and give an interesting picture about people you’re meeting with, like Rapportive for the real world. While it meets a clear need and tries hard, it’s got some serious issues (apart from privacy and security, which is another story) which means I can’t recommend it.
The app gets taken over by your co-workers. The interface is dominated by huge pictures of people in your reoccurring meetings, and there’s no way to hide these people. I don’t need Refresh if I’m meeting with the same team I see weekly. I think Refresh tries to solve this issue by providing a “Hide co-workers” option, but if you work for a big company this will go overboard and hide a huge number of people you meet rarely and need information on.
The app’s integration with Facebook is also troubling. Facebook is given the same importance as Twitter and Linkedin, which makes sense as a source of information — it really is helpful to know if someone I’m meeting shares friends with me. However, it also makes it far to easy to fat-finger an “add as friend” while trying to connect on LinkedIn. There are very few people from random meetings I’d expect to add as a friend on Facebook. Doing so would be a social faux pas. It shouldn’t be so easy. Similarly, the app merges “friends and connections,” combining information from Facebook and other sources. They should be treated very differently — I expect to have shared Linkedin connections. It’s a big deal when I share a Facebook friend. The app does split Twitter out, which provides a nice template.
Its Linkedin integration is interesting, and I like how it matches up job change dates with the stock market — it can be interesting and telling to know if someone I’m meeting with has been at eBay for ten years, since the stock was $15. The feature seems broken, though, since it treats every job on Linkedin as a separate company, rather than recognizing I could have multiple titles at the same job.
Worst of all, though, Refresh doesn’t always accurately connect people, and there’s no way to correct the match or clear the inaccurate information. I’ve only seen one case of mistaken identity, but it makes me worried about some of the other information.
If Refresh fixes these issues (and adds a few more features — I need to be able to edit contacts, link others (like an assistant), and export my “follow-up” reminders to other apps), it’d have my whole-hearted endorsement. Keep an eye on it.