How to kill a bigger company with a better UX: Truecaller vs Drupe

Mohammad Najmuzzaman
5 min readMar 13, 2017

Everyone knows Truecaller. If you don’t, Truecaller definitely knows you ;). After the Truecaller app was launched in 2009, it became a sensation pretty soon. Suddenly, you knew exactly who was calling you and unknown numbers were no longer a threat. Call pranks were avoided, phone scams were dodged, teleselling was smashed, and privacy was thrown out of the window. After onboarding millions of users and syncing their billions of contacts, Truecaller became the single source of truth for any phone number. Obviously, the next logical step for Truecaller was to become your phone’s default Contacts & Dialer app. You wouldn’t have to save contacts anymore and you could dial them right away, and that is what they did. In 2014, Truecaller launched Truedialer for the same purpose and soon it became popular enough to be merged into their core product. However, this shift in the product didn’t come with enough of a shift in the UX mindset.

Truedialer was merged into Truecaller to make it a single app

Before I go ahead and explain my claims, let’s be clear about what UX is. UX is not just how the product looks. It is what and how the user can do something with the product. Sometimes, people tend to think of UX (User Experience), UI (User Interface) and Visual Design as synonyms which they are clearly not. The below Venn diagram explains the relationship between UX, UI and Visual Design.

As we have cleared the air around the definition of UX, let’s talk about where Truecaller seems to have had a bit of a blind spot. Truecaller did a great job being a caller identification app but being a Contacts & Dialer app is a whole different ball game. In the present world with multiple ways to connect with your contacts, the meaning of “dialing” has changed. You don’t just dial a friend on her phone to communicate. You ping her on Whatsapp, or mention her in a tweet, or tag her in an Instagram selfie or video call her on Skype. There are tons of things you do with your contacts and to do each one of them, you need to open a new app. Also, communication is not the only thing you do with your contacts. You open Google Keep to set up a reminder to call your dentist or make notes in Evernote about your negotiations with business vendors. It is insane to know that all of these actions are connected to a single repository of contacts but there is no Contacts & Dialer app that makes them easy to do.

Enter “Drupe”. Drupe is a Contacts & Dialer app that was launched in 2014 by a Tel Aviv startup. By Dec 2016, version-3 of the product had already been launched and it has been none but impressive. Drupe saves the pain of opening a different app to communicate through a single swipe dial for anything and everything that you can do with your contacts.

Just swipe your contact’s bubble head to the app or action you need to use with them

However, that is not the only thing that makes Drupe awesome. Let’s dive deeper into the UX. In my previous article on customer behavior, I mentioned how context is important in understanding customer behavior. Drupe understands that. How?

Think of when you generally feel the need to communicate with your contacts. Maybe you are reading an article on Medium about cat health and you need a reminder to call your vet, or you got an SMS about a hypothetical 95% discount at Zara and you need to tell your BFFs Whatsapp group about it. We live our lives on our phones and we feel the urge to communicate when something on our phones triggers us to. Drupe has floating dots that are always there to start communicating no matter what you are doing on your phone.

Now, let’s look at their missed call reminder. Paradoxically, missed calls are calls that you don’t want to miss, and therefore need to be the most prominent items on your screen. However, in most dialer apps like Truecaller, they are lost in a list of other calls you made or received. Drupe keeps your missed calls very prominent as bubble heads and allows you to easily snooze them so that you can come back to them later when you are free to.

This attention to detail and awareness of context has made it easier for users to use Drupe and come back to it again and again for anything and everything to do with their contacts. According to Nir Eyal’s book Hooked, this is one of the major attributes of a habit-forming product. Also, just like Truecaller, Drupe tells you who is that unknown number calling you. This is why Drupe has got more than 5 million users on Google Play in such a short span of time and is growing its user base at twice the rate of Truecaller. All said, Truecaller still rules the market with about 500 million downloads on Google Play and is nowhere close to being killed. However, beware! There is a new lion in the jungle.

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Mohammad Najmuzzaman

Sr. Product Manager at Clipboard Health, No-code Instructor at Bubble, Intercultural Trainer, Geek Blood