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Digisocial is the latest free iPhone app with ambitions to become its own mobile social network. Instantly familiar in design to anyone who’s used Instagram or Path, Digisocial adds the ability to send and receive HD-quality voice messages, and even record audio to accompany uploaded images. It’s a clever idea that mostly works as promised – the app is fast and responsive at sending text or voice messages, and it’s quite entertaining the first few times you use it. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think Digisocial is just one announcement away from obsolescence, should an existing rival decide to incorporate the same concept.
The app features five icons across the bottom: Home is for posts from you or your connected friends, while Feed can be toggled to view Hot or Top posts by everyone else. Judging from the Top feed, those members are mostly nubile female hotties showing off for the camera, which I'd consider too risqué for the app’s age rating of 9+. The large icon at center allows for quick shooting of new photos, with or without one of 17 live filters applied. Existing photos can be loaded from Camera Roll, but images must be cropped into a square before being uploaded. This is apparently an effort to keep things uniform, but I'd prefer less restrictive crop options as well.
Messages and Contacts can be found on the last two tabs – users are assigned a “Digi Number” at signup which can be used to find others, but options are also available for name search, QR code, and Facebook contacts. To leave a voice message, push and hold the “Push to Talk” button; when you lift your finger, the message is automatically sent – there’s no way to preview or redo the message. Voice comments recorded with photos do get the chance for a do-over before being uploaded, although comments left for other users do not. The app suffers from a few maddening inconsistencies like this, including using the tiny iPhone menu bar to display notifications while the app is open, despite showing normal banners when closed.
My biggest issue with Digisocial is the apparent lack of privacy: Where Path prides itself on being a closed social network, anything posted to the Digisocial service can be viewed by other members, as I discovered when a total stranger “liked” the first photo I posted. While it can be chalked up to an oversight from an inexperienced startup, that incident was enough for me to avoid posting further images for the time being.
The bottom line. Digisocial is a little too fast and loose with the privacy controls for my liking, but there’s no denying that voice messaging is a fun way to enhance photo memories with sound. Cool as it is, I’d ultimately rather see the technology implemented into Path or even Facebook itself, which better suit a more privacy-minded lifestyle.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
HD-quality voice messages make photo sharing more fun. Live photo filters with no ads or in-app purchases. Optional sharing to Facebook or Twitter as posts are made.
Lack of privacy controls for Digisocial-hosted images. Photos must be taken or cropped into a square. No review or redo for Push to Talk messages or comments.