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social media

Social network Peach

It can be tough to find space for new social-media platforms as they pop up, considering so many of us are already drowning in the ones we use now, on the daily. Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram vie for our precious time – which we perhaps offer too willingly. In 2014, Ello promised an ad-free alternative, but got limited traction. Now there's another one that wants a piece of the action.

The app is called Peach and it's taking the Internet by storm, one curious user at a time. The problem? Its purpose is rather fuzzy. But for some reason, people can't stop talking about it.

Created by Dom Hofmann, one of the co-founders of Vine, Peach is a social network in your pocket (as in, there's no desktop version) for iPhone, with an Android version on the way. Like other networks, users can post quick updates with text, photos, videos and, yes, even GIFs, which friends can then comment on or like. Think of it like Tumblr, but without any public profiles. Users can only see updates if they are connected with each other, supposedly creating a more personal experience.

You're thinking that sounds a lot like Facebook?

A key differentiator is Peach's command centre: Instead of a giant, chaotic feed like Twitter's or Facebook's, all users see when opening the app is a uniformly tidy list of friends – no links to articles, YouTube videos, friends commenting on other people's posts and so on. Next to each user's name is the beginning of their latest status update, but only as much fits on one short line – like a teaser. An indicator will say if it's a new post since the last time you were there. If your interest is piqued, you can click through to the person's profile to read the rest. You might also find quotes or cute pictures of their kids. Or their grumpy cats. Or guilty dogs.

Peach is a platform that prioritizes economy of space: Instead of knowing everything about everyone, you pick and choose whose news you want to see at, say, 6 a.m. The idea is that limiting the noise allows users to focus, and perhaps breathe easier.

Something else unique with Peach: so-called Magic Words, or text shortcuts, that you type into an update to quickly grab information. For example, if you type "here," Peach shares your current location; "move" says how much you've walked today and "draw" will unlock the ability to share a handmade doodle. In total, there are more than 20 Magic Words that add some personality to your updates.

With absolutely no public profiles, plus the Magic Words centred on what a user is doing at that moment, Peach hopes to create a feeling of intimacy rather than overwhelming users with an info-dump.

Still, other social-media networks give you the ability to tighten up privacy settings and limit the kind of posts you see, meaning you don't necessarily need Peach to declutter your social-media life. Plus, chances are your friends are already on other social networks, giving you the uphill battle of starting over. If they don't eventually find their way to Peach, then you are simply posting in a vacuum.

Most friend updates I've seen in Peach so far seem to be either confusion over what they should be doing with it or guilty admission that they're there to lock down a username, in case the social network goes mainstream (which is quite possible, considering the widespread curiosity and noteworthy early adoption). Others update with trivial, but personal, information like the movie they are watching or their mood at the time. (Sound familiar?)

So what's the big deal? That's the question everyone using the app is asking, while they share rudimentary doodles and the weather.

At least we can say we were there first, and that's just peachy.