In a world where building authentic connections over social media has become tough, a new app – Slowly – has taken an old-school approach to building friendships. Late millennials and Gen Zs might not remember but being pen pals is how people used to build connections with strangers in faraway lands before social media sites allowed users to slide into someone’s DMs.
Helping people build authentic connections across geographies, only through letters, is what Slowly is trying to achieve. The app currently has over a million downloads, on the Google PlayStore, and a 4.6 rating.
Once Slowly is downloaded from the app store, it gives you a quick glimpse of what the app is about. The app connects you with people across the globe based on your interests and you can start sending them letters.
Slowly will then ask you to create a profile. Instead of uploading an image, the app asks users to create a digital avatar, with a ‘nickname’ and gender choices such as male, female and non-binary.
The ‘World Explorer’ section, below the banner, talks about different locations around the world. Credit: YourStory Design
The app then provides a list of topics to pick from. Based on the choices made, Slowly connects you with other users you are most likely to hit it off on the platform. After entering the languages you are fluent in, Slowly asks to access your location.
You can then either sign up using either your Facebook or Google account or enter another email address, and voila you are inside the app.
The app’s homepage has a clean user interface, which is easy to navigate. If you click on the top banner, which says ‘Welcome to Slowly’, there will be a quick introduction about what the app is intended for. How to use it and its purpose.
To connect with people, you can click on the middle icon on the bottom bar of the page. Here, if you click on ‘Auto-match’ then Slowly will match your country, language preference and interest and connect you with other users.
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You would have to write a small note though, which would also be included. In case writing letters is not your cup of tea, the app also provides a few suggestions on the Home Page. You just need to click on ‘Prepare to Write’.
Users can also choose to manually connect with other users by clicking on ‘Explore Manually’. The drill is more or less the same. If you like someone’s digital avatar, their bio and the topic they are interested in, you would have to send a note. Users will receive the note depending on how far they are located from your country.
In a world filled with instant messaging and the anxiety around being left on read, Slowly felt like a breath of fresh air. Credit: YourStory Design
By clicking on the ‘Pencil’ icon, on the app, users can also use the platform to just note down general things, and some random thoughts, among other things.
The time taken to deliver a message does give a sense of writing a letter. How you would wait to get a letter from your pen pal and the excitement of responding to one is well recreated in the app.
There is also a stamp section on the platform that gives users selected stamps based on location.
If you are looking to connect with people outside of your social media circle, where people don’t share made-up pictures about their lives, Slowly could be a pretty good alternative.