App for That
Snapchat is one of those rare tech products, like Pinterest, that seems to have taken hold in suburbia and then migrated to New York, at least judging by the coastal buzz suddenly circling the year-and-a-half-year-old app. The service, which was founded by two Stanford computer science students who met at a frat, lets you send photos to friends and strangers for 10 seconds or less before they (in theory!) disappear. You can type a message or use a crude coloring stick to mark up the image. It currently holds down the no. 3 spot for free apps in iTunes and recently claimed 30 million “interactions” a day.
Confession: lately, Betabeat has been on something of a Quora binge. In a fit of heat stroke yesterday afternoon, we found ourselves wishing we could just type “Quora” along with any question and have the answers magically appear. Quora: How many degrees will my apartment be when I get home? Quora: What’s a good age to freeze my eggs? But in our estimation, the service’s appeal isn’t the answers as much as the questions. It’s basically a window into the secret preoccupations of the human mind.
Take, for example, one anonymous user’s probing query into the development of Airtime, the video chat startup cofounded by Napster alums Sean Parker and Sean Fanning. “What does it feel like,” the user asked, “to be the engineer at Airtime who created the wiener detection technology?”
Airtime, the Sean & Shawn bred startup that launched earlier this week, has slowly grown on us. Our initial reaction was in line with the majority of the Internet’s: “Okay, it’s Chatroulette without penises.” But the more we’ve used the service, the more its benefits for networking, flirting and stymying boredom have revealed themselves.
But the thing is, since the site hasn’t really hit critical mass yet, you tend to run into the same types of people over and over again. They’re almost always very nice, but in our experience, they also almost always fall into one of the below five categories.