Adweek recently covered an up-and-coming free iOS app called Skout. Skout is a mobile app which can be connected to Facebook or an Email address. A basic profile is then created by the user to help explore what kinds of people the user would be interested in meeting. Other users who are currently online are displayed in a grid on the screen. It’s easy to click a profile picture, look at the users profile information, start a chat, add them to a favorites list, or send a “wink.” There are many extra features which cost points, which are gained by interacting with the program over time, or by purchase.
Skout includes many ways to interact with other users, including a “Shake to Chat” feature, which chooses a random user and initiates an anonymous chat, where identities will be shared after some time has passed. The goal of Skout is more about finding new people to meet, and less about hooking up with people who are already friends. Gaining attention through using the features of Skout puts your personal profile higher up in the queue, making you more likely to find somebody new to talk to.
Unfortunately, Skout does run across a few basic problems common with social networking sites. Points can be accrued over time, but the intent is to purchase them with real-world money as needed, creating a need for in-app micro-transactions, a common practice in phone apps. Many other programs have activities for free which Skout requires points to use.