Back in 2013 I came across an intriguing startup in Berlin which had a genuinely original take on social networking (hard, even then). Sharing your mood intimately with someone had been confined largely to Snapchat. But the startup that became TapTalk wanted to mine that idea even further, with an ultra simple interface which was immediately engaging and addictive, and lent itself to long distance friendships.
Now, the same team is changing again with a major update and re-brand. TapTalk will now automatically update itself for all its users to become Tapstack.
Tapstack has a staff of eight, while it raised $5m 18 months ago from A-Grade (Ashton Kutcher’s investment fund), Redpoint, Earlybird, Queens Bridge and SV Angel.
So why should you care?
For starters, there really isn’t anything out there like Tapstack.
As with the previous TapTalk, Tapstack allows you to literally ‘Tap’ the profile picture of a friend and send them both a photo, short video (of up to 10 seconds which is both shot and sent in one action) and your location (this can also be hidden).
What’s different now is the major new feature which adds the ability to save those Taps into a shared album between sender and recipient called a Stack.
This further differentiates the app from services like Snapchat that ‘delete by default’. In fact I call Tapstack ‘Snapchat for grown-ups’ because while you have full ability to delete your Taps, you can also create a living memory of shared experiences which are entirely private and can’t be shared on social networks.
This provides a new kind of continuity to users’ exchanges on the service. Tapstack is therefore useful for creating intimacy over long-distances, and because it shares location, it can be used quite effectively in urban environments as well.
It would therefore be ideal for expats and students abroad, parents and children, and perhaps military families – though location sharing would be a problem there.
Tapstack now has customization options for a user’s grid of contacts. There is also a new log, allowing users to view sent Taps. Small groups messaging remains. You can also open Taps from a group or individual in order of preference.
Tapstack’s Onno Faber calls this whole approach ‘personal media’, or something in between messaging and social media, because Taps are both shot and sent in the same instant without the chance to pick a filter, edit the image. He says this creates something rare in social media: vulnerability.
“You don’t have to have a reason to share something but when you do it’s super easy, and you can later reflect back on those shared moments. People did it naturally by taking screen shots, but we’ve built it into the app now,” he says.