If you want to have a chat with someone you don’t know on the tube, it is much easier now.
Tubechat searching for other users outside the underground station © Zhenyi Lu
A new app called TubeChat will free you from “no service” underground. Turning on the Bluetooth, you can break the ice with fellow commuters within 200 metres right away. Other functions like a group chat up to 10 people and playing I Spy are also accessible.
The screenshot of TubeChat
But does everyone want to participate? Several people gave us their opinions. It turned out that especially for young Londoners, they seem to be very open to the app. They find it interesting to chat with strangers and socialise. But the app’s price would be a main factor for them to decide whether they will use it or not. If it is for free, everyone seems to love it. If it charges, less than £1 seems to be acceptable for most young people.
To investigate how the app actually worked on the tube, our journalists had a journey at noon on Central, Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines. However, there was no one within the range using TubeChat.
The app was newly launched in November. More technological details still need to be developed.Once a user decides to quit a chat, the app needs to be restarted again and requires another mobile verification code. But there is no signal on the tube. It means if a user wants to chat with someone else, he/she needs to log out, finds somewhere with WiFi and log in again.
The screenshot from the app
But what if someone want to have a private chat? Since the app only serves for a group chat, it is not safe to share your mobile number if more than one person is in the group. It is also a bit difficult to keep in touch with someone you are interested in after you leave the subway.
As to the information safety, from the interview young people don’t care about if their personal data is displayed or not. The app profiles are based on how much information they want to reveal to others. Users can incognito their names, or change it at their will.
To bring people closer is what the app aims at. TubeChat founder, 26-year-old Nina Tumanishvili, told the Evening Standard: “I was on the Tube one day and realised that people were buried in their phones, lost in a closed world of their own.” The developers are hoping to “revolutionise commuting” with the app.
The description on the App Store states: “Don’t be shy – use TubeChat to break the ice with fellow commuters.”
TubeChat is now available for iOS, and Andriod users should be able to access to it early next year.