One of last year’s hottest company’s of 2009 was Aardvark – the mobile Q&A service that Google acquired in early 2010. Aardvark routes your questions to the most appropriate person in your expanded social network and ensures that you get the highest quality answer possible. RandTxt (iTunes link) is the exact opposite of this. With this service, which launched its free iPhone version today, your questions, comments or obscene observations are routed to a random user on RandTxt’s network.
RandTxt’s SMS and web-based service launched a few weeks ago, but because of the high cost of sending text messages, users were limited to two questions per day. The iPhone app, which doesn’t rely on text messages, does not have any of these limitations.
James Tamplin, the app’s developer, describes RandTxt as a “Chatroulette for text messages.” That’s an apt description. Think of it as a poor man’s Yobongo, where the complicated location-based algorithms are replaced with a random number generator. Is it useful? Probably not – but if you’re looking for a fun way to spend two minutes at the checkout counter, you could do a lot worse (obscene comments, by the way, will get you banned).
Part of what makes RandTxt appealing is that it brings Omegle/Chatroulette to a wider audience. You don't need to access RandTxt through a web browser - you can access it through text messages on your mobile phone. This is the same strategy that gave Twitter its initial boost.
However, exposing stranger chat through text messages may not be enough. I also wanted to be able to access Omegle through iChat and Gmail. So I wrote my own "chat with strangers" app - Social Butterfly.
Social Butterfly works over Google Talk (if you have Gmail, you already have Google Talk). You can access it through your favorite IM client, including on mobile phones. Try it out here:
I'd love to know what you think!