I adore Twitter. The idea of a micro-blogging service holds tremendous appeal to me, and millions of other people. But the only people that will see something I tweet and care about are my followers. Sometimes, I just want to throw something out there and figure out where it lands.
Enter Airendipity, a new iPhone app that lets you do just that.
Totally Private Social Networking
Airendipity is simple: tap the airplane and type your thoughts. Then tap the Send button, and just swipe towards the top of the screen — and voila! Your airplane, with whatever thought you wanted to share, has been launched. Anybody with the app, anywhere in the world, can tap your airplane and read it. They can love it by tapping the heart, or share the email via Facebook, Twitter, email, text message, etc. You can see where your airplanes have landed and where they’ve been loved, but that’s it. You’ll never see who read them, and they’ll never know it was you who wrote it. All they’ll see is your location. It’s totally private.
That’s right. There’s no account, no sign in, no nothing. If you move to a different city or go on vacation, so too do any new airplanes you send. The location data is scrambled before it hits their servers (by up to 50 square miles), so “there is no way to figure out who you are” with the data that Airendipity ends up with. And if you see anything you deem offensive, it’s easy to report it. Airendipity is free (for now), and there are no advertisements — and the developer has promised there won’t be. (Instead, they are promising a fun and interesting way to make money further on down the road.)
Simple User Interface
Airendipity comes with a demo, but I’m not sure it needs it. The app is so easy to use that I think most people could figure it out instantly. It threw me for a moment when I expected my airplane to just fly off on its own, but after pushing it towards the top of the screen, it soared just fine.
Otherwise, everything seemed really intuitive. It’s a visually pleasing app, but there’s nothing that I felt was hidden away. The other thing that the app has going for it is that exploring everything is just fun. It’s fun to tap random buttons and see where they take you because the concept feels so fresh, which is high praise in the world of iOS. Airendipity really feels like it hasn’t been done before.
Which is why it’s also impressive that it never feels difficult to navigate. The new is normally hard to explain, hard to understand, or hard to see your way around in. And the developers behind Airendipity feel way ahead of the curve — their description of the app and their demo makes everything so simple that anybody can do it. And that’s the point — even a child could do this, without fear of privacy issues.
I love that when you Heart an app, it is instantaneously added onto your list of favourites so that you never lose access to it. There are some cool ones I might want to show off to friends if I were demonstrating the app, or even read again to add some extra sunshine to my day (I like positive airplanes). And checking out the visual flight path of an airplane on a map is really fast and very cool. All of this stuff happens instantly because, unlike most popular social networking apps, Airendipity was designed and made just for the iPhone. It’s iOS-exclusive and it’s fast and responsive. It also looks great on an iPhone 5.
Where Is This Going?
After sending a few planes, I started to ask myself a couple of questions. Not just about where the planes were going or anything like that. Actually, seeing where my planes had landed and who had loved them was really cool. But I did start to wonder about the long-term viability of the app. How long can it last before interest wanes?
So I started paying attention to the numbers. I got the app the first or second day it was available and sent an airplane immediately; I couldn’t resist the concept. Every now and again, I’ve sent an airplane every day since. There has been exponential growth in the amount of places my plan lands, which indicates to me an exponential growth in users. Of course, without official word from the developer, these assumptions are presumptuous, but they’re based on reality. People appear to be really into this quirky idea.
Airendipity is a 1.0 app (at the time of writing), so it goes without saying that there are going to be some bugs. I’ve encountered two mildly irritating bugs, neither of which are too serious.
The first is that notifications are rarely, if ever sent. The first time that an airplane of mine landed somewhere, I received a notification on my lock screen in the middle of the night that was there when I woke up in the morning. After that, I never got one again. It’s not a huge deal, because I don’t necessarily need 45 notifications or more for every airplane. But if somebody comments on a plane of mine, I’d like to get a notification.
The other issue is that Airendipity naturally looks up your GPS location. (You can deny this information and be listed as sending an airplane from Somewhere, Somewhere, but that’s the only way to get around it.) When I close Airendipity and return to the iPhone’s springboard, my GPS stays on permanently. Force-closing the app solves the problem and takes only a second, but it’s a minor annoyance regardless.
You might be wondering if you need to get into another “social network.” Don’t think of Airendipity that way. Think of it like it’s a way to share your most private thoughts without ever losing privacy, or just a way to say something on the Internet without screaming it to all your friends on Twitter or Facebook. I think the concept is really cool, and I hope you guys will join me on the app and help it really take off — pun intended.
Airendipity is a hard-to-resist concept that's completely fresh and extremely well done.8
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