Couples everywhere know that text frequency is a sensitive issue, but BroApp, which just launched on iOS, lets users schedule automatic texts to send to their significant others so they won’t get in trouble.
BroApp isn’t just for bros: Creators Tom and James, who declined to give their surnames, say that 10 percent of their users are women. Though BroApp is from Brisbane, Australia, half of the app’s users are American and the majority of users are between 18 and 24 years. We talked to Tom and James about their game-changing app.
How did you come up with the idea for the app?
Tom: I came up with the idea when I was living with James. I was working long hours at work and you couldn’t use your mobile phone in my office, and it wasn’t very accommodating to the girlfriend. I was talking to James about it and a light bulb moment happened and we thought, “Why don’t we set up an automatic text messenger and say, ‘Hey, how is your day?’ messages to my girlfriend?” We tested that for a few months and it’s quite a unique app that was useful both for me and for other people.
James: We built a prototype first, and that worked really well, but we didn’t decide to make it into a product until we told people we made this app. It had a lot of social currency and people found it funny. A lot of people wanted it and that was the reason we eventually made it into a product.
What about after the first text? The app can’t continue the conversation.
Tom: It’s just sort of to start the communication with the girlfriend so there’s still communication during the day. It wasn’t necessarily to message your girlfriend so you never have to talk to her. The idea was that it sends an initial text to start a conversation, so it’s more of a reminder than your relationship automated.
But why do you need an app to do that? Why can’t you just remember to text your girlfriend?
Tom: [Laughs] We were always so busy at work or couldn’t use the phone.
What did your girlfriend do when she found out you had been testing this app on her?
Tom: She was a bit shocked at first, but then she just realized how much I loved her.
So it was a labor of love?
Tom: It was.
What kind of problems did you run into in beta testing?
James: We started off with a really basic version that would simply just look at when Tom disconnected from his work wi-fi and send a message when that event occurred, so if Tom walked out of work and walked back in and walked out again, the original version sent texts each time Tom walked out. It wasn’t time-based; it was location-based. I think that put you in a few tricky situations, didn’t it, Tom?
Tom: Yeah, yeah. I’d just say, “Sorry about my phone – it’s been playing up lately.” She never caught onto it, so that was a good sign.
How did you come up with the messages?
James: We wrote those messages based on what we actually texted to our girlfriends. I guess we didn’t really think so, but what happened was a lot of Australianisms crept in there so we caught a lot of flak on social media. We were using “darl” and “sweety” and “bird” and signing off with “x.”
Tom: That’s why we only intended those default messages as examples. People can edit them to their own sort of language.
James: You can edit the existing messages and words you don’t use. Some people have edited the “x” to the kiss with the asterisks. I understand that – and expect that anyone other than perhaps our girlfriends would be suspicious of the default messages. It’s almost impossible to come up with messages that are cross-cultural and cross-relationship, etc., so from the beginning it was baked in that you could edit the messages and add your own.
It sounds like you could really use it to text anyone you need to text occasionally, then.
James: My brother uses it to text my mom. When I told her about BroApp and an extension called MomApp, she was very annoyed and said she’d be outraged but I don’t know if she knows my brother uses it.
How’d you come up with the name BroApp?
James: Bro is normally used as not a positive term. We call it brah, like a self-deprecatory thing. We chose that so people didn’t take it as seriously. We’re aware of how people perceive the term “bro” and it was a deliberate choice.
BroApp is available for free on Android and iOS.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark