What’s trending now?
From beginning to end, relationships involve a myriad of web-based connections, including G-chatting, Skype calls, and Whatsapp reminders to bring home some bacon.
These platforms are easy, they’re cheap, and, unfortunately, they’re largely impersonal. This is exactly what the developers of Jathi are trying to avoid. This app combines all the features we’ve come to expect in the information age – with a personal touch. It’s an invitation app that encourages users to spend a little one-on-one time where it counts – offline. But, it makes use of all the bells and whistles we can’t seem to stop using, like GPS location coordinates, favourite restaurants, and calendar integration.
And Jathi is not alone in the quest to bring people together in real time. Ketchuppp allows users to see when their friends and family are nearby so they can meet up at the local coffee shop or park. Making use of only the numbers saved in your phone, this app encourages you to spend an impromptu afternoon with the people you genuinely care about.
Why it’s important
With more of our lives facilitated by online interactions and mobile phone applications, it’s little wonder that web based connections are seeping into that most personal of spheres – our intimate relationships.
Traditional dating has gone the way of personal letters delivered through the post – obsolete. Cell phones remain on the table at restaurants if they’re not in use for Tweeting about the terrible service or the remarkable new menu items at the corner Italian restaurant. Parents at the park are more likely to be busy posting videos of their children as they are to be actually watching them play (or joining in).
Jathi and Ketchuppp are on the “if you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em” path. Their users are saying, “I want to spend time with you”, rather than a quick “spotted you at the mall today” post on a friend’s Facebook wall.
What’s the butterfly effect?
These are small apps. Ketchuppp is still short on users and Jathi isn’t even fully launched yet, but they say something about how we’ve learned to interact – and how we’d like to interact. With any luck, apps like these will remind people to switch off when they’re spending time together.
Although merging our online desires with our offline passions has many benefits, these apps do beg the question of whether we’ll ever go back to planning memorable moments without the use of any gadgetry. And if not, where will this new hybrid application lead us? Will families sitting down together turn dinner into a special occasion without an app that lets them feel they’re enjoying themselves? And will they actually encourage people to spend time together?
Ketchuppp, for example, relies upon the idea that if you’re hanging out at the local hardware store, you actually want to stop off for a cup of tea rather than getting down to that project that’s sent you out in the first place.
Jathi and Ketchuppp may be the obvious leaders in this realm of offline relationship apps, but they’re not alone in the movement to get people connecting offline. Circle brings together people with similar interests within a limited proximity. And Highlight works with every connection in your network (Facebook and Linked In are included) in a similar manner to Ketchuppp.
The global hot spots
Americans driven by their rabid interest in all things app are leading the pack with offline-encouraging apps (whether or not participants Tweet about what they’re doing), and there are a few European developers. But, it’s the developing world where people rely on their smartphones to connect with each other that will probably take these apps to the next level.
By: Katie Schenk
Katie is South African by choice, but she’s proud of being American too. She’s a writer, a producer, and a momma. If she can shut off – she sleeps. Her interests include advertising, home economics, entrepreneurial processes, South African idiosyncrasies, and rugby. (Really). She’s also a fan of Tudor history – but there’s nothing trendy (or trending) in that.
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