December 10th, 2013
Today’s blog post is a roundup of three apps that have recently earned a place on my home screen. They take care of three very different but equally important mobile needs: friend-to-friend payment, friend-to-friend dating, and friend-to-friend game playing.
Venmo is a friend-to-friend payment app, an absolute godsend for a city dweller who is regularly splitting rent, cab fare, and dinner bills with friends. My friends and I rarely carry cash, and when I do, I’m always guarding it carefully for cash-only bars in the Mission. Or when someone does have enough cash to pay me back, I end up with $28 worth of $1 bills and an evening’s worth of stripper jokes. And I have no idea what a check is or where I might find a pen in my home to use one. So an app that enables people to instantaneously pay money owed is great for both parties.
Venmo syncs with your Facebook so your Facebook friends on Venmo are automatically contacts you can pay, or you can find users via phone number or email. A feed surfaces the Venmo interactions between your friends (not the amount, just the reason) which adds a level of hilarity.
Venmo created this word cloud to highlight the numerous use cases where Venmo comes in handy- however, I think there was a high level of curation involved here, as my feed seems to be dominated by friends’ payments for services such as “hot sex,” “Lovin,” and “Farts.”
Since its acquisition by Braintree, the app has rolled out Venmo Touch, a one touch payment system that works across a number of apps that work with Braintree. This means instead of re-entering credit card info on Living Social, Task Rabbit, or Hotel Tonight, I can simply use my Venmo information to pay.
There’s a couple things to take away from Venmo: 1. Getting social, when it serves a purpose, is something users are very willing to do. We’re happy to share inane details of our lives so long as it stays off our Facebook wall. 2. It enables short, quick transactions between friends- can these same exchanges be built into our shopping experiences with retailers?
Lulu is an app that lets girls rate & review male Facebook friends they’ve dated. The execution of the app makes it less risqué than it sounds: guys are evaluated based on a series of questions on different parameters (ambition, manners, appearance, etc) which contributes to an overall score. Then users can select hashtags that paint a picture of the positive (#BedroomEyes #SmellsAmazeballs #RespectsWomen) and negative qualities (#ShouldComeWithAWarning #MommasBoy) the guy possesses.
Lulu’s meteoric rise has caught some attention recently and plenty of criticism; a Brazilian man has decided to take the makers of the app to court. For its part I’ve found it to be fairly accurate if not hilarious. I even went so far as to change my gender on Facebook to see if I could be reviewed by my friends. Sadly, Lulu now thinks I’m a guy and I can’t use the app anymore. How will I know who #AlwaysPays and who will #HititAndQuitIt now?
It’s an app that absolutely necessitates sharing your Facebook login- and staying friends with your exes. And like Venmo, it’s leveraging the fact that Facebook friend circles have exploded- while we don’t really want to share with them on Facebook, it’s helpful to be able to tap into those networks on other apps.
It’s been a while since we deleted WordsWithFriends to free up some space on our phones for latest and greatest. QuizUp takes the same concept of challenging your friends but with the flexibility of creating just about any kind of challenge. Being the intellectual that I am my fortes are “Snacks,” “Shopping” (working at Fluid, I KILL at this one), “Name the Animal,” and, this week, “Elton John.” Like Venmo and Lulu, Facebook sign-in enhances the experience on this app. Similarly, all Facebook-related activity stays on the app instead of blasting your Facebook feed.
My usage has definitely decreased since I first discovered QuizUp at the Thanksgiving dinner table, but perhaps the variety of topics will keep the novelty from wearing off for other users.
Time will tell whether these are still my top three in a couple of months- but something tells me Venmo at least is here to stay.