We first covered Balloons! by Shiny Development a few months ago when it was in beta testing. It’s been a while but the developer finally finished up the app and got it into the App Store just recently. Since we had the opportunity to be a beta tester we were also given a copy of the full version for review.
For those of you familiar with Distant Shores then you’ll understand the idea behind Balloons! very quickly, since they are quite similar. For those unfamiliar, the entire premise is to share your thoughts and musings with some random, unkown person that could be anywhere in the world. However, unlike Distant Shores, Balloons! allows you to attach a photo to your musings prior to sending them. Also, where Distant Shores is rather relaxing (as you stroll along the beach you find bottles with messages), Balloons! I didn’t find to be that way. In fact, all of the graphics and imagery of Balloons! is meant to give it a fun and exciting feel, after all it is fun and exciting to get messages from around the world!
Balloons! wants to use your Location Services so that it can pinpoint your location. However, this is (to our understanding) really only used to let others know where the message came from.
When you launch Balloons! you are given the option to Launch your own balloon or to catch one. If you want to launch your own balloon then you would enter who the message is from, add a photo (or take another) and then add a message. You then select the balloon you want to use from an array of balloon colors and shapes (this is rather pointless, really). Now you’re ready to launch!
Selecting Catch a balloon allows your to catch one of the many balloons with messages that are already floating around in the system. We couldn’t catch a balloon with a more recent message than “about a day ago” which meant the real time back and forth that Distant Shores offers is a no go. However, you could catch a balloon that had been caught and re-released by someone else. In fact, this is one of the major points to Balloons! is to keep adding messages to the same balloon. So, when you get one of these balloons with multiple messages you can read through them all and add your own message and relaunch.
The app worked just fine but I have to be honest in that I’m not sure there is a lot of appeal with this one. The lack of real time interactivity is a major downer and I completely lost interest in the app after only a few minutes (pssst… please allow for real time interaction!). When I checked on the two balloons I had launch they had still not been caught after a full day in the system. Hmmm… where’s the fun in that?
The app does show tremendous promise though. If the developer makes the app more interactive then there’s no reason that Balloons! wouldn’t see some great success. We loved the great interface and reading some of the musings was fun. Let’s just tweak it a bit and we should have a winner. However, if you really liked Distant Shores and found yourself addicted to that app, then Balloons! is still worth a try as you may just find that it works great for you.
What we liked: Idea is great, graphics are great, app is well implemented.
What we didn’t like: no real time interactive communication, balloons are launched and not caught for a day or longer, balloons that you catch are also old,
Balloons! is a social messaging app much like Distant Shores. However, rather than sending your message in a bottle, you use a balloon. I’ve had a beta version of Balloons! installed on my iPhone for a couple of weeks now. While this is just a preview/beta version, the app is rather fun and addicting.
The idea behind the app is that you attach a photo and a message to a balloon then launch it into the air. The balloon will be caught somewhere in the world by another Balloons! app user. The next user can then add a message and another photo and relaunch it, essentially creating a chain of messages on the balloon. With each user that the balloon finds, the collection of messages and photos grows. If you’d rather just launch a new balloon, you can do that too. Simply select your balloon type (fast speed vs. normal speed or high altitude vs normal and more), enter your name (if you wish), take a pic to send, and add a message. Then, touch launch, and your message is off.
When I got my hands on the beta version, there was a beta sign up for those interested. However, at last check, the beta was full. The same page is now a notification sign up for when the app gets released. I contacted the developer, Dave Verwer, to see when we should see Balloons! hit the App Store. According to him, we should have Balloons! landing in August. No word yet on price.
Balloons! for iPhone/iPod is not yet released.