If you've been spending time lately on Facebook (and who among us hasn't), you may have noticed cartoon versions of your friends popping up on your News Feed from an app called Bitstrips. But what is the app and how does it work?
Bitstrips was released in 2012, but it only came out with iPhone and iPad apps in September. Now, the personalized comic app is blowing up on Facebook. Here are five things you need to know about the most popular free app on iTunes right now.
1. You are the star of Bitstrips cartoons: You can completely customize your avatar on Bitstrips, down to adding in a wheelchair or changing the size of your pupils. Then you can add your character into preset Bitstrips scenes. You can share these scenes on Facebook or make greeting cards with them.
2. Your friends can join you in the comic strips: If your friends are on on Bitstrips with their own avatars, you can add them into your own comic strips for fun, pre-set scenarios like, "Jane finally bores John to death," with a comic of John leaving Jane on a stretcher while she chats away.
3. You need to have a Facebook account to use Bitstrips: Like it or not, if you want to use Bitstrips, you have to be game for letting the app post your comics on Facebook. You can change the privacy settings of your Bitstrips so your Facebook friends don't see them, but they do get sent to your profile. The strips are meant to be used in lieu of a Facebook status or wall post, like "John is excited to be going on vacation."
4. You can change the Bitstrips scenes: While the background and positioning of the avatars will stay the same in given Bitstrips scenes, you can change facial expressions and text to make the strips your own.
5. Bitstrips crashes a lot: Blame it on the popularity of the fun app, but Bitstrips is prone to crashing. The servers are often overloaded, which means the app may close on your phone or you won't be able to access a lot of the Bitstrips scenes. The Facebook app is currently down, as are some parts of Bitstrips.com. The company wrote on Twitter that it is working around the clock to get Bitstrips back up and running on Facebook as soon as possible and the website back up sometime next week.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark