Thursday, November 18, 2010


This summer I commissioned an app based on an idea I had: What if you could create a virtual mail carrier, put a message and/or photo in its mailbag, and pass it (physically) to a friend, then they could add a message and/or photo and pass it to someone else, and so on? You could also track your pet's journeys around the world and see all the places and people it has interacted with. That was the idea behind PetPass...kind of a chain mail Twitter with cute animals, leveraging the Bump API.

It's been a rocky road getting this thing produced, but we finally got it submitted to Apple yesterday. It's still a little rough around the edges (especially when it comes to handling poor network connectivity). Here's how it works:

The app is free. You get 100 credits with the free download. It costs 10 credits to create a new pet. You choose a pet type (monkey, panda, robot, etc.) and give it a unique name. Then you add a message and (optionally) a photo to its mailbag. You click Pass Pet. A friend of yours who also has the app on their device clicks Receive Pet. You shake your phones near each other and the pet passes from your phone to theirs. You earn 1 credit for each pet you pass, though you can't earn more credits by passing the same pet multiple times. You can also purchase 10 credits for $0.99.

Will people like and use this app? I really don't know. I thought the idea sounded cool at the time. I'd been wanting to produce a social networking app, and one that used both in-app purchases and the Bump API. But who knows?

It is implemented reasonably well, and it is free. Though I've found that ironically users tend to be even harsher on free apps than they are on paid ones. You do get a lot more downloads with a free app, so the chances of it catching on are increased by the price tag. It should take another week or so for the app to be approved (or rejected). If the app does reasonably well on the iPhone, I will develop an Android version. The Bump API allows for transactions between iPhone and Android devices. But we'll have to see how it does first.