Skip to main content

Q&A gets photo-friendly with new app Pupil

pupil - dog

Q: What do you get when you cross Instagram and Quora?
A: Pupil.

Capitalizing on two of the Internet’s hottest trends – photo feeds and crowd-sourced Q&A – the Pupil app bring users real-time answers from real people. Just take a picture of something, and submit it to users for help identifying, or supplying more information about the image. Despite Pupil’s novelty element, founder and developer Mark Daiss insists the idea for the app was born naturally. Curious about a type of car he saw one day, Daiss says he “realized there is literally no service that can provide me with that information [via an image].”

And he’s right: We’re so reliant on our phones to provide us answers on the go, and that generally requires at least some background information. But Pupil wants to make it easier, and with nothing more than a photo and a question, you’re on your way to crowd-sourced answers.

iphone screenshotBut where do those answers come from? From you – and others like you. Pupil is creating a community with its registration process, which requests an e-mail address and asks you about your areas of expertise (i.e., do you know a lot about dogs? Food? Celebrities?). You aren’t required to answer any questions, but if the app is able to find a cult following a la Quora, it won’t have any trouble getting answers for its users’ queries. You’re also rewarded via a community score system for your hard work. Better yet, you don’t have to toil through the pain of randomly assigned questions you don’t know the answers to: Pupil allows users to select a category of their choice, making the entire experience less like school and more like Jeopardy (the only downside is that since Pupil is so new, questions are somewhat limited thus far).

Of course, there are bound to be some obstacles when you trust the general public. Finding “experts” for Pupil’s fields is “no easy feat,” Daiss says, noting that the broad range of subjects Pupil covers makes it that much more challenging. He initially worried about how Pupil would route question, and whether “the right people would be getting the rights answers.”

Fortunately, getting answers hasn’t been a problem. The app depends on its community to willingly answer questions, and there’s always a strong possibility that when it comes to volunteering information, people will bail. But so far while still in its early public beta stage, Pupil is going strong and has a 4:1 answer to question ratio – and the answers are good, which has been the truly exciting part for the team. “It’s working really well so far,” Diass says. “It’s a small community right now but it we continue to give good answers it will grow.” He emphasizes that marketing isn’t a concern quite yet, saying they want to refine the product first.

Daiss admits when the team first began developing Pupil, they toyed with the idea of narrowing its scope – making the app specifically tailored to answering image questions about just cars, or just plants. Deciding to stick with a variety of categories is an ambitious undertaking, and one that Daiss believes will help Pupil determine what subjects its users are most curious about. So far, he says the most common queries involve nature, people, and animals. Mind you, this is after roughly one week of public beta testing. But Pupil is undeterred: “Look at Quora,” Daiss says. “[It’s] a great resource for tech. Outside of that realm, it’s a little unstable and there’s not as much great feedback.” He wants to apply this principle to Pupil, potentially letting it evolve into a more niche Q&A platform with high-quality expertise behind it.

And that includes a transition to your PC. Daiss says that while Pupil is currently available for iOS and Android devices only, they are working on a web platform for asking and answering questions. It would also allow users to offer more thorough, long-winded answers – soapbox style, even.

It’s still a little early to determine where exactly Pupil is going, but Daiss did reveal that upgrades will include some sort of news feed with trending questions and most recent queries and answers, as well as improvements to the community aspect. Users will get “Pupil Points” and “Grades” for their answers, which will be viewable on a leader board, providing some incentive not only to respond to questions, but to provide insightful information. You could also see other users with similar expertise. A future version will also include samples and ideas on how to answer questions, ensuring that the community continues to base itself on worthwhile information. Even more ambitious, Pupil wants to create a functionality that will help the blind identify everything from food to street signs with the use of VoiceOver technology and a few other tweaks.

Pupil’s success is dependent on how much it can motivate a community, and with a smartphone in nearly every pocket and an ever-changing landscape, its creators may have found an unfilled niche.

Molly McHugh
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Before coming to Digital Trends, Molly worked as a freelance writer, occasional photographer, and general technical lackey…
Hurry! Get the latest iPhone SE for $149 in Walmart’s Memorial Day sale
Several Apple iPhone SE 3s

Apple is known for making some of the best phones on the market, and a lot of them come with an incredibly high price, which leaves Apple fans who have a more moderate budget out in the cold. Luckily, Apple has created a more budget-friendly entry in its lineup in the form of the iPhone SE, and when the original one came out it was quite a big deal. Since then there have been three iterations, and while they have been steadily getting more expensive, they're still well-priced and are packed with features.

Luckily, there is an early Memorial Day deal that will let you get the latest iPhone SE 3 from Walmart for just $149, although that's tied to Straight Talk. The $149 price tag is significantly cheaper than it would be if you bought it at MSRP, which is a whopping $429, so you're getting well over half off.

Read more
Arc Search, one of the best iPhone apps right now, just got even better
Arc Search's Call Arc feature.

One of our favorite iPhone browser apps has just introduced an interesting new feature. Arc Search’s new "Call Arc" tool functions similarly to making a phone call on your iPhone 15 Pro or other iPhone. Instead of speaking to someone on the other end of the line, though, you ask Arc to answer your queries. The outcome is fresh and unique, and it actually works really well.

Before its latest software update, Arc Search already offered a voice search feature. The AI-powered Call Arc is different and designed for people on the go who are looking for quick answers to short questions.

Read more
The Google app on your Android phone is getting a helpful new feature
Google app on Android beta showing Notifications.

The Google app for Android phones is getting a helpful new feature to make search even better. The latest beta has a dedicated "Notifications" feed in its bottom bar. The feature was first introduced on the mobile version of Google for Android earlier this year. The app feature was first noticed by 9to5Google.

The app now includes a Notifications option at the bottom, next to Discover, Search, and Saved items. The Notifications section displays a continuous list of alerts from Google Search, weather conditions, flight information, sports scores, movies and TV shows, and more. The notifications are grouped under “Today” and “Earlier." This feature should prove handy if you miss a notification from the Google app, as it provides a more focused view than Android's system-level history.

Read more