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New uTap app needs more participants to be effective

This last weekend wasn’t quite what I expected.

After seeing all the chalk advertising on campus last week, I decided to download uTap, an app which allows users to post a message that other users can see from a maximum distance of two miles.

The idea was interesting, but I wondered how this was going to help me improve at “Angry Birds.” Nonetheless, the possibility of having a constant invite to some of campus’ most interesting events was tantalizing. I decided to give it a try Friday on the Oval.

As the posting of my first message drew near, I became consumed with what I wanted it to say. This was the time to make a big splash. Alexander Graham Bell didn’t ask Thomas A. Watson to come to him politely, he demanded it. It was time for this Watson to go big or go home.

The perfect icebreaker came to me.

“Good morning everyone. How’s it going?”

Nailed it.

Despite its perfection, my message went without any replies – even to the very moment that I write this. Having felt like I got ditched by my high school prom date, again, I left the Oval defeated.

As humiliating as it was, I decided not to give up.

Saturday I met with the app’s creator, Karl Meves, to find out more about the app and to get some tips on how to use it.

In helping me understand why my first “tap” received no replies, Meves, a fourth-year in electrical engineering, said he expects a few more slow days for the app (especially with last weekend being a holiday weekend) until everyone becomes more acquainted with it.

After seeing usage data, it appeared that many people check the app, but it doesn’t mean they post.

Another facet is that to have an account, users must provide a university email address. Meaning everyone a user talks to is affiliated with the university. Unlike Facebook, your dad and grandma aren’t involved in your conversation.

Privacy is nothing to be worried about with the app’s “block” function. So if you grow tired of me asking everyone on campus how the Kardashians became famous, you can block me. Your loss though.

Meves also walked me through the app, pointing out some features I had not been aware of, such as the search bar, which allows me to sort old posts based on the content of their message.

After my encounter with Meves, my confidence returned and I devised a plan to attend the Short North Gallery Hop using the app to see what interesting events I could find.

It would’ve made for one heck of a column.

I traveled to South Campus that evening to pick up a female friend in hopes that two people attempting to hang out with strangers would make for an easier conversational atmosphere than one.

I was also fully prepared for the possibility that my attempts to go elsewhere could go without replies. So I decided to also ask the app’s users to come hang out with my friend and me.

My first idea was to set up a meeting place at a restaurant. I offered the choice of Union Cafe, and in a matter of minutes we were seated on the patio.

Hip place for meet-ups: Check.

After tapping a couple of posts checking to see what events were happening the rest of the night, I sent out a dinner invite to anyone that wanted to eat with a fellow uTap user.

Unfortunately, neither my invite for dinner nor my requests for interesting plans were met with responses. After spending a few hours more at Gallery Hop while periodically checking the app, I parted ways with my friend after an unsuccessful evening.

In a last-ditch effort, I made my way to campus to see what events were occurring.

While at McDonald’s, I checked the app one last time.

My post asking what events were happening for the evening did get a response, and it was Meves reminding me he was at Formaggio. I realized that campus’ uTap usage was as slow as the Short North’s. It was then that I decided to call it quits for the night.

Sullen, I lamented the night that could’ve been over fast food, which did help.

Though my experiences with uTap were not at all what I wanted or expected them to be, the app is still new to students and still promises opportunities to meet new people.

On Friday, I did manage to look back through the posts that were tapped earlier in the week and saw that event invites had been posted on other days. Saturday evening just wasn’t my night – or the app’s.

I still plan on using the app for finding any interesting events near me, and the likelihood of that happening is increased as students become more familiar with uTap.

Until then, I’ll just play “Angry Birds.”


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