They look happy, but they really want to kill one another.
As long as roommates have existed, so has the practice of roommates sending one another passive-aggressive notes. You know the kind: a Post-it that says, “Please put the toilet seat down.” Or the simple but poignant “Clean this” with an arrow pointing down into a dish-filled sink.
Now these disagreements no longer need to be scattered around as unpleasant reminders of your dysfunctional home life. Instead, they can all live in an Android and iPhone app called HomeSlice. The organizational tool allows you and your roommates to chat, to keep track of bills, to alert one another when shared home supplies are low, and to create chore lists. So all of the subtle tension involved in assigning home-cleaning tasks can be concentrated into one digital space.
HomeSlice isn’t exactly a novel concept. Chore wheels and white board shopping lists have existed since the beginning of modern cohabitation. And there are a few modern services that overlap. Apps like Plates and Venmo allow you to share the cost of bills with your friends, My Job Chart is for parents who want to assign chores to their children (and reward them for a job well done). Chorma allows you to share tasks around the house with the rest of your roommates. And you and your roommates could always just email or, you know, talk to one another, like with your mouths.
HomeSlice, however, aims to combine every aspect of a communal living space. Chores are important, but often the most roommate tension arises over easily overlooked things: the toilet paper your roommates never replace, expensive cleaning supplies, or those beers one of them “accidentally” drank.
Yes, it’d be nice if the app’s bill-organizing section actually had a feature that allowed you to transfer funds, or to split a bill among people. But at the very least it’s a good place to record all your shared expenses. It’s annoying to search for those numbers in your email, like I have so many times. Not to mention that it’s always good to know if your utility expenses are increasing over time (so you can have a talk with your roommate about his excessive space heater use).
That being said, the app is still a little glitchy. Testing it, my Yahoo Tech colleague (and fictitious roommate) Daniel’s screen froze momentarily while in the app. He continued to tap until a chore posted. Little did he know that he was sending push notification after push notification to my phone, saying that I needed to clean the cat hair out of the couch. If I hadn’t known better, I’d think he was angry at me. Bugs like that could easily upset the delicate ecosystem of a shared living space.
But if you’re looking for a convenient place to keep everyone you live with in the loop — and everyone you live with has an iPhone or an Android phone — then HomeSlice is as close as you’ll come to ideal. You know, assuming your roommates are all sane, functioning people.
Here’s how it works:
2. Open it.
3. To start from scratch, select New Home.
4. You’ll have to give HomeSlice your email, create a log-in, name your home, and decide on a passcode that everyone in the household will share.
5. You’ll be granted access to the app. The first thing you’ll probably want to do is invite your other roommates. To do that, tap the tool icon in the upper-right corner of the screen.
6. Select Invite Roommate.The app will then ask if it can access your contacts. Once you’ve given it permission, you can search for your roommates and text them an invite. The invite will contain all the information they need to join your specific household. (By the way, this is also the Settings page where you can add a profile photo or edit your home’s information.)
7. When you return to the main part of the app, you can navigate between lists by clicking on the icons at the bottom of the screen. The shopping cart shows the communal items for which you and your housemates share the cost. The chore list is represented by a foreboding spray bottle, and includes whatever tasks need to be done around the house. Finally, the bills icon is a list of whatever utility bills have piled up.
8. To indicate that something is out of stock, that a chore needs to be completed, or that a bill has arrived, simply swipe right next to the item. The green triangle will move across the screen and turn red.
9. If you need to add something to the list, tap the composition icon in the upper-left corner. From there you can name the item. (Fruit Roll-Ups are essential in my household, obviously.)
10. In the Bills section, you can add a new expense the same way. Then you can enter the specific amount it costs. Here’s where it would be nice if the app had cost-splitting or Venmo-like features, but you can’t win ’em all.
11. Tap the home icon to get an entire feed of your roommate responsibilities (fun, right?). You can also chat in the app with everyone in your home.
Chore notifications are clearly the place for subtle tension to unfold.
That, my friends, is HomeSlice. Now if only finding pleasant people to live with was that easy.