That celebrity-stuffed Ellen DeGeneres Oscar photo proved that everyone — even poor Liza Minnelli — loves a good selfie. Unfortunately, clogging your social media feeds with photo after photo of your duckfaces remains an obnoxious habit.
Never fear: Facefeed, an app that allows you to share photos and short messages with people nearby, can be your new selfie outlet. And it might just help you make some selfie-loving friends, too.
The iOS app is set up like a Facebook or Instagram feed, only full of selfies. You can browse the photos of people nearby and send anyone who catches your eye a short message, along with a quick photo that you take of your own face. The app emphasizes spontaneity by stripping the image-capturing process of any editing capabilities whatsoever: Press your finger down on your screen to open your camera, and once you lift your finger again, the app will automatically take a photo and send it off.
You don’t get to preview the image, and the photo doesn’t save to your phone.
The result is a playful, fast-paced exchange with relatively harmless people. (Though I should warn you that every once in a while you may receive a selfie of something far less appealing than a person’s face. The app’s creator, Ben Cera, assures me that he’s working on that, but so far the app seems unable to filter NSFW content.)
Facefeed is by no means a medium to form actual connections with people. Rather, it introduces you to a vast number of bored folks who, like you, are wasting time on their phones. In many ways it taps the same voyeuristic fascination with strangers that caused us to wander into AOL chatrooms or dare to brave the random webcam feeds of Chatroulette. Yes, there are weirdos. But there are normal people, too. You just have to do your best to navigate those murky waters via the few social cues you can decipher.
And if you happen to be the weirdo, you’re in luck: Facefeed doesn’t require a connection to your email or social feeds like Facebook if you don’t want it to.
Here’s a basic run-through of how to use it:
1. Download the app and open it.
2. Type in your name and tap Enter.
3. Select your age range.
4. Choose your gender. As you can see, Facefeed has not yet adopted the same generous list of options that Facebook recently provided for its customers, so for now you’re either a man or a woman.
5. Specify whom you’d like to receive selfiegrams from. This is when you decide if you’d like to use Facefeed as some sort of hook-up app or just a platonic venue that connects you with strangers. I’ve opted for the latter.
6. You’ll then be prompted to take a profile picture. Facefeed allows you to update it often, sort of like posting new statuses on Facebook. Remember, the photo is taken immediately after you tap the screen and remove your finger. You won’t be able to edit it, so make sure your pose is just right before you lift your digit.
7. Now for the real fun. Swipe up and down on your main screen to start cruising for chat partners. To send someone a selfie, tap the red button at the bottom of the screen. Coincidentally, I stumbled upon Cera himself, so I thought I’d say hi.
8. You’ll be brought to a screen that asks you to type in a short message. This will show up on top of your selfie. I’ve noticed that Facefeed customs dictate that you start the conversation with a simple “hi.” When you’ve finished your message, click the camera button. If you want to simultaneously take a new profile photo and send an individual person a selfie, then tap the smiley face up top.
9. Once you submit the text, you’ll need to take your photo. Place your finger on the screen, strike a pose and lift your finger. See? It’s very quick.
10. Once you’ve taken your photo, Facefeed will automatically combine it with your message and send it to the recipient in question. You’ll know it went through once you get a confirmation.
11. From the home screen, you can access your private messages by tapping the mail icon in the upper-left corner of the screen. (Don’t ask me what that hamburger photo is all about; I am just a mere observer like you.)
12. Once you’ve privately messaged someone, you can decide to add him as a friend by tapping the star icon on the upper-right side of the reply screen. He can also choose to friend you back. This allows you to find him on Facefeed in the future.
13. If you swipe to the left twice, you can see how many friends you have. The more friends, the higher your Facefeed score, which ranks you in terms of popularity within the network. You can see your score by tapping the list that displays your number of friends. Ultimately, the more people you talk to and messages you send, the higher your score. I am clearly very unpopular.
Those are the basics! Now go meet some strangers, you crazy kids.
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