September 13, 2010

TextPlus 4 Brings Personality, Pictures to "Boring Old Text"

Even if its not the most flashy of activities to do on your phone, chances are you are texting. Fully 72 percent of cell phone owners in a recent report from the Pew Research Center said they send or receive texts, so the common perception that texting is a feature monopolized by teenagers and other youth can be thrown out the window. But texting isn't that exciting, for the most part. Characterized by shortened phrases and cutesy emoticons hammered out on feature phones, it's no wonder you never see text in a commercial for the latest Android or iPhone.

What's missing with text is context. It's a major reason why texts and e-mails and chat are so often misinterpreted, as you can't see the look on the person's face, or hear the tone in their voice.

But TextPlus, who I mentioned in July when they added their support for communities around text topics, is looking to bridge that gap, bringing one of the most appealing features of Apple's new iPhone 4 (FaceTime) to text in a feature they call Face Texts - as part of TextPlus 4 for iPhone and the new iPod Touch (which has a camera).

Face Texting With Text Plus 4

The concept, like FaceTime, is simple. Just like FaceTime took a known medium (videoconferencing) and made it personal by not only making it simple on a one to one basis on the iPhone, but also tugging at one's emotions with a pointed series of commercials, TextPlus is moving emotion into text. With Face Texts, every text between friends contains a photo of you in that moment.

No posing. No positioning. No makeup. Just you and how you feel as you send that text.

Similar to Apple's PhotoBooth application, there is a 3-2-1 countdown, a quick flash and as Steve Jobs would say, "boom". Your photo is next to the text you sent. Have a long conversation with a friend? Expect the expressions to change, or you can change your face to best explain your mood. It could be the missing link between text-only and true videoconferencing.

Drew Olanoff, director of community at Gogii, the company behind TextPlus, and a good friend of mine, also linked the idea behind FaceText to DailyBooth, the popular startup where you are encouraged to document and share your life with others, leveraging daily photos - but instead of a one-time shot through a computer, Face Text is you at an unrehearsed point in time, through what he says is the "best social network in the world - the one in your pocket."

The new TextPlus 4 works on iPhones, the new iPod Touch, and actually works well on iPads too, but you'll have a really hard time trying to find a camera on any of the current iPads out there, so if you want to Face Text, you'll have to pick photos from an existing archive in your collection and make do. But it's a lot of fun, and its personal - much more so than a simple string of text, a smiley face, and a lol for good measure.

You can start Face Texting once you download TextPlus 4 at

Disclosures: Drew Olanoff is CEO of Qwotebook, where I am an advisor. He is also one of my BFFs.