If you have ever wanted to start a conversation with a stranger in Washington Square Park, a newly developed smartphone app called LoYakk promises to help.
LoYakk is a social networking app that seeks to connect local communities in new ways. The app allows users to chat with other people near their location so they can discuss local events, review restaurants, ask questions or help non-locals with directions.
“The idea of instant and on-demand access to a local community and its sub-communities is very important for schools where there is so much change and flux given new needs, events, changing classes and unknown classmates every [semester],” said LoYakk CEO Salim Ali. “College students want to reach out, ask, answer, rave and rant, and engage in a dialogue with other students on campus, whether they are friends or not.”
The app uses a system of venues, including NYU and Union Square Park, which users choose based on their location. After choosing a venue, users can view questions asked and answered by locals about the area, as well as add their own responses. Channels such as Sports and Coursework exist within each venue to separate conversations based on subject.
The NYU venue on LoYakk is currently the most popular of all venues across the country and abroad with more than 1,000 comments posted since the app went live during Welcome Week in late August. Other popular venues include Yale University, the University of Connecticut and Oxford University in England. The Washington Square Park and Union Square Park venues are also active with over 100 comments posted.
Users can choose to remain anonymous during conversations on LoYakk.
“For some interactions among people there is a need to be anonymous, especially when someone wants to first dip their toes in the social waters before engaging all-out with others,” Ali said.
While some users may be concerned about the possible dangers of communicating with strangers, CAS computer science professor Nathan Hull said he believes the app is relatively safe.
“The only danger is if [the app] keeps your information,” Hull said. “There’s no real danger in [communicating in] an urban setting.”
For many users, the benefits the app offers outweigh the risks. LSP freshman Jack Zabelny said LoYakk has the potential to connect students in the NYU community.
“I think it’s a good idea because there are so many restaurants and spots that it’s hard to distinguish the good from the bad,” Zabelny said.
LoYakk can be downloaded for free from the App Store.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 27 print edition. Jonathan Keshishoglou is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the previous version of this article, WSN incorrectly attributed responses from LoYakk to the company representative Kira Rosario. In fact, LoYakk CEO Salim Ali provided them. WSN regrets the error.
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