Developer: ustwo
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 0.8
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

iOS Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

“You have no friends.”

This is a tagline for Rando, a photo-sharing app from ustwo. Initially the statement seems hostile, but it reveals the philosophy behind this app: it’s anti-social. It’s not about status or appearance, like Instagram, the service that this app stands in marked contrast to. It’s all about sharing photos to someone, or no one in particular.

See, how Rando works is that it lets users take a circular photo, and then launch it into the universe. It’s saved to the camera roll, but there’s no way to share that photo to any social networks from within the app itself. Later on, a push notification may be received that will say that someone in a certain spot will have received one of the user’s Randos, but that’s it. This is about sharing to just one person. One random person out there in the universe. They might like the photo, they might not, the photographer won’t know at all.

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The fun of the app comes with just taking photos on a whim, sometimes without any context whatsoever, and sending them out to someone. What’s cool is that the wide-scale location of the person who gets the photo can be seen, so it’s at least possible to get an idea of where a photo is going.

Rando-4But really, the best part of the app is receiving photos. Generally, a new photo comes in for each photo sent out. Cat photos, people walking in front of a Starbucks, a painted fingernail…all tagged with wide-scale location data. These are all random photos that someone just decided to share with the world for no discernible reason, and with no reward for doing so. I’ve gotten photos from Korea, Russia, and Canada. There’s just something compelling about how…unimportant and inessential it all is. It’s all about getting back exactly what one puts in to Rando.

Compare this all to Instagram, which is an inherently self-focused network. That’s all about modifying photos to make them perfect and popular, to the point of stripping any reality out of them. In contrast, Rando photos can only be modified by setting the focus. There’s no way to import photos. There’s no contest for getting so many likes by posting food photos, it’s just about sharing a photo with a stranger. One stranger.

Pretty much the only bad thing I have to say is that the account registration is completely unintuitive – something like Twitter or Facebook authentication would help out greatly! Given that the rest of the app is so clean and unobtrusive, it stands in marked contrast to the rest of the app, and makes using Rando for the first time a real issue.

Really, for a lot of people, Rando will just seem bewildering. The lack of any point whatsoever will make it seem not worth using. But if it clicks, its brilliance shines through.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Photography, Reviews

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