Relive penpal nostalgia with 20 Day Stranger, an experimental iPhone app that hooks you up with someone who you do not know and allow you to send life snippets (but not actual messages) back and forth.
This might either sound really cool or really freaky depending on how you look at it.
The brainchild of MIT Media Lab spinoff Playful System, the app aims to create a shared 'mobile experience' between two individuals while protecting each other's identity. You will learn, for instance, what time the other person wakes up, what the weather is like and so forth. But you won't actually be able to send your own words over...until the 20 days are over and you get to send one 400 word message.
"It should feel like postcards rather than letters,” MIT professor Kevin Slavin said to Wired.
Building a mystery
The iPhone's M7 chip will be used by the app to recognise when and how the phone moves, alerting your anonymous partner as to your activities and whereabouts. But to keep things safe, details like exact locations are not shared though you might get a Google image of a nearby location.
Slavin says it's really about using technology to share the 'flavour' of your life. It allows sharing without direct communication, riding entirely on data collected by your phone on a daily basis.
What the app is supposed to be is an experiment to see how relinquishing fixed identity could affect our digital relationships. But instead of being the poison channels like Secret can become thanks to anonymity, 20 Day Stranger doesn't give room for nastiness or personal attacks. No gossip, just data.
At present over 25,000 have signed up for the experiment but it's currently only running on the iPhone. Rest assured though, that Android testing is a big priority for the Playful System crew.
But if the romance of 20 Day Stranger does not appeal to you then well, there is always Tinder, freshly revamped with Snapchat-like features.