The shift toward more private and anonymous sharing continues, and today another new application called Shortwave (or Shrtwv, as they’re now abbreviating it, to eliminate confusion with another Shortwave) is officially debuting its own take on the trend with an app for anonymous sharing of both photos and thoughts.
The difference between Shrtwv (pronounced “Shortwave”) and something like Secret or Whisper, which are also focused on anonymous postings is that the thoughts, photos and activities are tied to a location, where they’re then left behind for others in the current vicinity to see.
The company refers to the app as “an anonymous diary for your world”; however one of the larger use cases could be posting those “overheards” to Shrtwv instead of to Twitter as an “OH:..” tweet. It could also make sense for when you have something to share, but don’t want to be involved in the guessing game that Secret permits with its “anonymish” identification of users as either a “friend” or “friend of friend.”
The posts in Shrtwv, called “waves,” can be read in real-time by those nearby.
Leaving a wave is easy enough to do. On the app’s home screen, you just swipe up and share your thought or photo. Users can like or flag the waves they see to give you feedback.
“Have you ever been at a coffee shop and you overhear something that sticks with you for a long time after? In a nutshell, that is what Shrtwv is about,” explains co-founder Muneeb Bokhari of Digiplastic Industries, the company behind Shrtwv.
“We believe that anonymity is really about commenting on and taking in experiences without any direct judgment by others,” he adds, noting that in the coffee shop example, you couldn’t respond directly because you don’t know the person saying it, and it’s weird to walk up to a stranger and just tell them your thoughts on the matter. But you can post the “overheard” statement and share it with others, as people tend to do.
But not all waves have to be about the “overheard.” One of Bohari’s favorites, he says, was of a person in the NY area who posted they were stressed about expecting their third child. A second user later responded to give them encouragement. This sort of use case is more similar to Whisper’s, where it’s about expressing personal thoughts, sometimes of a darker or more embarrassing nature.
The Shrtwv app, which went live into a public beta of sorts at the end of December, saw over 200,000 waves posted in its first month on the App Store, reaching users in over 52 countries. Twenty percent of posts have photos attached, but surprisingly, Bokhari says that so far, people have not been spamming the app with adult content – something that most social services that gain traction eventually have to deal with.
“People have been taking pictures of pets up for adoption, writing about the crushes they have on their classmates, and, generally, sharing moments of beauty that they see in the world around them,” he says (probably too optimistically…the porn will come, man, the porn will come).
However, because each Shrtwv post is geo-tagged with a physical location, abusing the app from, say, your sofa at home, is discouraged by default as location is involved which is, notes Bokhari, “the equivalent of me writing something completely offensive on my front door.”
Shrtwv is an interesting twist on anonymous sharing by nature of connecting thoughts to locations, but it fails a bit in its execution as it’s not entirely self-explanatory how you’re supposed to interact with waves, or what gestures do what. You might be tempted to swipe left to see a new wave appear, for example, but this only pops up the “leave a new wave” screen, which is confusing. (Apparently, waves just load automatically.)
And despite Shrtwv’s emphasis on location, waves are oddly not tagged with an exact locale. I’d like to know if waves were posted from a local hotspot, coffee shop, someone’s workplace, or just down the street from me, and Shrtwv doesn’t help with this.
It’s also limited by its use of location in a way because if you’re not located in an area that has a lot of early adopters, you’ll get stuck seeing the same waves over and over again until more users get on board. It’s a shame that Shrtwv, like Secret, hasn’t thought to surface the best posts on its service from anywhere, and mix those in with local waves to get the app a broader appeal.
But the app is only two months old, and still has room to improve in time.
Shrtwv is a free download here on iTunes.