TapTalk Is A New Video Messaging App That Adds Location

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My TechCrunch colleague Natasha Lomas recently argued – quite convincingly – that startups should stop trying to make proximity-based social networking “happen” — that most attempts had failed, and even ongoing ventures like Foursquare have had to tone down the idea. And yet these apps still keep appearing. And who can blame them — we might as well do something social with that GPS chip.

TapTalk is a new iOS and Android app to send friends a photo or video, but it’s way more interesting and fun than that might initially sound. You can download it from the Apple store here.

After connecting via Facebook, the app lets you tap the image of a friend to take a picture – in itself an innovative new kind of UI. But hold their picture down, and you record a short video of a few seconds. Using the front-facing camera you can send a selfie or, as is often the case, a short video message to your friend. Click on the bottom half of the camera field and you can type in a short message.

Talking a cue from SnapChat, any photo of video you send can’t be retrieved after you’ve seen it. You also can’t pre-take a photo and upload it. Everything you send to others is unique.

Because the app displays both the photo/and a map of where you are — in the case of sending a video — this means the app is turning into a sort of video Walkie-Talkie. It is excellent for use in urban environments like cities. You can add friends by user-name, mine is ‘mikebutcher’.

TapTalk has been created but the same Berlin-based team that brought us Ding Dong – which does something similar, but is built more around location.

TapTalk is not really a photo app. In fact all this suggests that TapTalk is using location as a feature, not as the focus. In fact, you can also use it without sharing a map of your location.

If that’s the case it should get some kind of traction. If not, it’ll be yet another app trying to make proximity-based social networking happen, when – unless people use it for sex (Tinder, Grindr) – it probably won’t.