“Is this the next Clubhouse” and “what about ChatGPT” are probably the expected takes on every emerging ‘new thing’ right now, but it’s always nice to see a social media app that feels quite literally a world away from what’s gone before – it’s not in the UK yet, but here’s what you should know.
Created by Singaporean tech company Metadream, Bondee launched earlier this month and seems to be quickly gaining users’ attention. It officially launched on the 17th January and has topped app store charts in multiple countries across Asia and is set to launch in other markets over the year.
Inviting you to “live with your friends”, you make an avatar that you use to do all sorts of stuff like chat, decorate rooms, show people what you’re doing, kind of like a mix of The Sims, Facebook, Messenger and Telegram in one app.
On the App Store it describes itself as: a “virtual plaza for you and your closest friends to hang out authentically” and “Be whoever you want and design your digital twin!”
It has a bit of a Roblox/metaverse feel to it, giving a whole world which you can do all sorts of things through – a bit like building your own little nostalgic corner but having a social media side to it as well.
You can see your friends’ avatars showing moods, or what they’re doing and users can upload quick snapshots to appear with their statuses which is a bit like BeReal but without the limited time window.
Your space can be decorated with furniture or photos from your camera role and your friends can visit and leave you notes on your wall – a bit like older relatives do on your Facebook page (thank you aunties!). And all your friends’ spaces are next to yours, you’ll feel a bit like you’re back at University halls - those were the days.
You can chat with your friends while your avatars do things like dance and instead of emoji reactions the avatars act out reactions – like falling in love, laughing etc.
Toxic things Bondee doesn’t have, which is why I'm really interested to see how the app takes off – follower counts and scroll feeds. The closest thing it has to scrolling is “floating” where your avatar gets into a dinghy and literally floats through the sea, you can get more items to decorate with, throw and pick up messages in a bottle and meet other avatars. Bondee also has a cap on the number of friends you can have – 50. So in that sense it's a much more selective group which may well pose some challenges for those who have countless ‘social media friends’ but really, more than 50 good friends that you’d want to decorate little virtual spaces with and chat to? Exactly.
So there's not really a 'hot take' on this just yet but it's an innovative more gaming/metaverse style social mdia format that I think could have some potential, particularly if organisations are able to have spaces on there in due course - imagine if you could visit universities on there, or check out stores, attend a music festival - now that could be interesting.