The widespread usage of the Internet has led us to keep in touch with distant friends and family members and discover tonnes of information. However, the modern social web and mobile landscape is more about communicating with people you know and trust rather than meeting new and random people. This is not how the Internet functioned more than a decade ago. Then, you had chatrooms and it was not uncommon to have long conversations with unknown strangers. There were forums where many like-minded people could meet. While all these still exist today, there is still a void when it comes to a modern service which simplifies serendipitous encounters with people across the world.
So when I came across a new Android app which promised just that, I was excited. SnapSwap is a simple app which allows users to send their snaps to random people all over the world. While most first impressions of this app would be that it is a photo app, it is actually something more. It wants to act as a channel through which you can meet new people randomly through the medium of sharing your photos.
The premise of the app is pretty unorthodox when it comes to most apps and that is why it can end up being a lot of fun. Once you start the app, you are given an option to click any image using the app’s inbuilt camera functionality. After this you have to upload this image to SnapSwap’s servers which will then fling your images randomly to a SnapSwap user located anywhere in the world. At the same time, you will receive an image from another random SnapSwap user. So basically, with one snap you can connect with 2 new people. This is a pretty awesome mechanism to have in an app.
When a SnapSwap user receives an image, the notification lets them know where the image has come from. This is possible because the app geotags each photo. The user can then give a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ rating to the image. Besides this, you can now also start a conversation with the person that you have connected with. The best part about the app is that because of your image, you and the other person now have something to talk about and thus not be awkward.
The ability to message another user who you have connected with lasts only for 24 hours. If you don’t reply or message that person in the stipulated time, then the option goes away.
Points to note
1. No need for registration or sign up: The app does not require you to sign up for its service. You can register but the app still functions without that. While most of us are tired of signing up for every other service on the web and keeping track of the passwords, I think there might be a need to get people to sign up especially when it comes to random photo swaps around the world. Signing up gives accountability to both the user and the service and could be one way to ensure that it is not abused.
2. You cannot resend your images: The app doesn’t allow you to send the same image twice. This adds to the serendipitous nature of the app and thus makes sure that people may not abuse the system and use the app in the way that it was intended.
3. What about inappropriate images? The trouble with user generated content is that there is a high risk of people being sent inappropriate images. This could include pornographic, anti-secular and political content for example. The app aims to combat this with 3 flag system. If a user gets flagged 3 times for sending inappropriate images, then that person will be suspended and never be allowed to send an image from that device again.
Can SnapSwap be better?
I loved the idea behind the app and I can think it could be a lot of fun. Of course it will not be the kind of app which you are glued to all day but it definitely can help you pass time in a fun way and meet new interesting people from across the world.
When it comes to UI, the app is pretty decent and does have a consistent flow. However, the experience could be much better. Given that this seems to be the first public iteration of the app, the developers could look at implementing a more intuitive user experience. For instance, app elements look quite dated compared to the kind of app design mentality that is emerging these days. The developers could do well to take inspiration from newer photo and chat apps so that the overall experience could be a bit more modern. This being said, the UI doesn’t actually clash with the app’s purpose and it definitely gets the work done.
SnapSwap works as promised but I did come across an unusual glitch. When I tried to register with the service, it wouldn’t take in my credentials, specifically my password. It kept popping up a message saying that the password should be within 5 to 8 characters even though the password I supplied fit the criteria. However, I could use the app without registering. I have not been able to test this on another device to see if this was an isolated problem.
The app is free to download and is available on the Google Play Store. Do give it a try and tell us what you think.