by Michael Shapiro | February 1, 2013

Yasmo Live, which has produced apps for about 110 events over the last three years, has just unveiled a new, do-it-yourself version of its tool. And to promote it, the company is making the Instant App Creator completely free to use for a limited time. For at least a couple of months, according to Yasmo, planners can try it out for an event of any size -- even with sponsorship opportunities -- at no cost.

Yasmo Live is a native app, with versions available for Apple iOS, Android and Windows devices, as well as BlackBerry (although BlackBerry is debuting a new OS, unlikely to be compatible with apps for its current devices). And the new do-it-yourself version, the company claims, allows event organizers to create an app in less than 10 minutes.

The app's core feature is its location-based networking ability: It shows attendees the profiles of everyone in their vicinity in real time, and facilitates face-to-face interaction by making a meeting request very straightforward. It also levels the playing field in this respect, making it just as easy to approach the superstar keynote speaker as any other attendee. The profiles are basic: just name, company and title, so the creation of the profile is neither labor-intensive nor intrusive from a privacy standpoint. Attendees must send a connection request in order to see someone's email address and, optionally, links to Facebook, LinkedIn and/or Twitter pages.

The app's focus on networking brings to mind another new location-based app, Topi, which I wrote briefly about last month. A few differences between the apps stand out to me, though. Topi places a stronger focus on social media connections, importing profile data from attendee LinkedIn and Facebook profiles and using that data to create social groups based on professional and personal interests, hometowns and the like. Topi encourages banter among attendees on their mobile devices, allowing them to begin either public or private conversations through the app that could lead to in-person meetings at the event -- or at least continued conversation.
Yasmo, on the other hand, is designed to facilitate in-person meetings. "We're really focused on face-to-face interaction," says founder and CEO Areti Kampyli, who recently moved Yasmo HQ from London to San Francisco. "We want you to meet people on-site and talk to them, then use the platform or other social media to keep in touch after the event."

Both apps aim to offer the conveniences and utility of any event app, such as providing program and speaker information. That said, those extras appear only as PDFs or documents on Topi, which isn't the most robust and mobile-friendly way to get such info while on-site. Yasmo's program ("programme," actually, as vestiges of its UK origins remain) is more robust, easily searched and, in my opinion, much more attendee-friendly. There are some inconveniences. For example, it would be nice to be able to access speaker bios from within the program tab, rather than navigating to a separate speaker section, but Kampyli tells me that change already is being made.

Some other useful Yasmo features include audience polling and the ability to send in questions to speakers during sessions. The latter feature, says Kampyli, was one of the most popular at The Intersection, an innovation and social change symposium that took place at Google's headquarters in January. Eighty-six percent of the 325 attendees used the Yasmo app.

Yasmo still provides a more full-service option to customers who request it. Topi, which will formally post its pricing later this month, will charge event organizers $5 per user, per day.