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.
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.