Microsoft's Garage program is the place for employees (and apparently interns) to work on fantastical or offbeat projects. It's a safe space for creativity! You can see why something like that would help staff morale and even pay dividends if someone has a really great idea. The new Garage project called "Tossup," however, is just painful.
Tossup (out now for iOS and Android) attempts to make it easier for groups of people to make plans. It sort of combines every communication tool ever (email, SMS texting, Web-based messaging, etc.) with surveys. It's supposed to make it easier to make choices as a group—like picking a meeting place and a time, for example—by breaking things down and then allowing participants to vote. Yelp ratings are baked in, and participants who don't have the app can still respond via SMS.
But does anyone need a seperate app to make plans? It's already common to use multiple messaging services (Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WhatsApp, GroupMe, not to mention Swarm), and each of them has a different combination of features like location-tracking, favoriting, and the ability to add and remove participants to make group chats easier.
Unfortunately, the Tossup promotional video on Microsoft's official YouTube channel isn't doing the app any favors. It opens with a woman saying, "My friends don't suck, but getting them all together does." Theories from my Slate colleagues on what's actually going on with this character include:
"Maybe the friends don't really ever want to hang out with her and that's why they dodge her."
"Maybe it's like that John Cusack movie and she's actually all of the friends."
"Her friends don't suck, but she does."
"I think it’s very possible that she sucks AND her friends suck."
"Maybe everyone just sucks. What a depressing app."
Later the character calls one of her friends a "problem child" and leaves "like 10 messages" for a different friend. "You checkin' voicemail?" she asks. Um, no, no one who would use an app to make plans with their friends checks their voicemail.
Don't go down this road, Microsoft. Just don't do it.