One of my favorite things to do is give gifts to the people I love for absolutely no reason. Where this becomes slightly tricky is that most of the people I love enough to send random presents to don’t live in my immediate vicinity. Random gifting requires significantly more effort. Spying the perfect present while out and about, going to the post office, waiting in line, charming the post officers into being nice to me, then waiting until they receive it. Patience is not my strongest virtue, so I get fed up with the process. Online shopping has alleviated this pain point somewhat, but have you ever tried to narrow down a gift for, say, a gardener in your life by doing a Google search? Complicated!

Enter Karma.

Somehow I neglected to notice Karma when it launched in March, which is really unfortunate because this app is delightful. I could have been using it this whole time! Beautiful interface and easily navigated, it makes gift giving a breeze. Gifting on the go, if you will. The product selection is extensive and includes fun genres like Quirky and Trendsetter. You can gift someone baby items, “romantic” gifts like chocolates (not my definition of romantic as I’m not a fan, but that’s cool), Uber rides, LED dinosaurs (gifted!), Kate Spade NY trinkets and a book on fashion illustration. (Hint, hint to anyone who might use this app to send me things.)

Part of what makes the Karma gifting process so simple is that you aren’t required to enter shipping addresses; when the recipient accepts the gift, they choose the shipping destination themselves. This will be helpful for conversations with my mother which invariably go like this: “So should I ship this to your apartment?” “No, Mother, I can’t get packages there. My work address is best.” [Hi, Mother! Love you!] As the recipient goes through the gift acknowledgment process, Karma notifies the giver. No more wondering if USPS delivered anything for me! Also, the recipient can send a thank you through the app. For those of you who know me, thank you notes are of utmost importance in my life. Major Leslie points for offering that feature, Karma creators.

Another (pretty dangerous for me) feature that makes Karma so easy to use is that you don’t have to pay right away. You have the option, but the app allows you to submit payment after the recipient confirms the gift. It is practically like giving gifts for free! Until you have to settle up. I can see me getting carried away because of this feature.

Gift recipients have the option to accept the original gift, swap it for something else or even donate the value of the gift to charity. Not that anyone I give presents to would do that, right? Right?! I mean, I guess I can’t argue with donating to charity, can I?

One aspect I don’t really like is that in order to invite others to use Karma, the app sends them a text message. I really want to spread the word to my friends and family because I think that this app has huge potential to grow, but I don’t want to spam them with texts. If that can evolve, I would be more inclined to invite people.

The only question remains: Who is going to give me a random present through Karma? I love surprises!

UPDATE: After playing with Karma for pretty much most of the day yesterday, I have a few more points of feedback. It would be incredibly handy, and a natural fit for the app’s intent, if you could bookmark gifts you want to give in the future. Also, the emails that alert someone that they have a gift look suspiciously like spam to the uninitiated, which led to frantic emails from the recipients about the nature of what was sent to them. That’s kind of a buzzkill for the giver: “Click, I swear it won’t compromise your computer. It is a present. You’re going to love it!”



Much has been written about Highlight, the social discovery app which launched in February and was immediately anointed by the tech press as THE NEXT AMAZING THING at SxSW. I’ve used Highlight ever since it first debuted and I have to admit: I just don’t get it. So much so that I finally disabled the location setting the other day, which is one step away from deleting it off my phone entirely.

Sure, Highlight notifies me when some interesting people are around but then what? I mean, really. Then what? Send a weird tweet about it? The app’s tag line reads “A fun way to learn more about people nearby” but I haven’t noticed that happening at all out in the wild. Unless you count the time a date and I were leaving a party and someone yelled out that they saw him on Highlight just then. Meh. It just seems to turn us into voyeurs with no action, which makes me uncomfortable.

After TechCrunch crowed about how revolutionary this app is and Scoble echoed the sentiment, I saw an uptick in adopters and alerts but still no actual activity. That is until the morning I was standing in Embarcadero Station, minding my own business, and a random (male) friend of a (fairly douchey) Facebook friend messaged me: “Hi.” Creepy. This phenomenon is what Alexia foresaw as a barrier to full-time adoption by women, which will kill Highlight if their business model is supported by the theory that sex sells. After that experience it took me a while to re-enable my location settings; I was incredibly skittish.

Since then, Highlight has felt like a populated ghost town that sends alerts willy nilly. I don’t understand why I’d want to use up precious iPhone battery power on an app that simply doesn’t provide a service. I appreciate that some, perhaps more visionary, tech bloggers see it evolving into assisting recruiting services, a business card replacement or a way to get a date, but it just doesn’t hold water for me. Who knows. Maybe Highlight will prove me wrong.

But until then, don’t get me started on that logo.



Pair. The social network for couples. The app that started a rather large chain reaction in my life. Pair is a GroupMe/Path hybrid that I’m not sure needed inventing but since it is exists (like Everest), and CrunchFund invested in it, I opted to give it a whirl.

Even though I began playing with Pair after taking this gentleman’s brilliant and sad suggestion, I did actually get the opportunity to try the app out with a real person. Of the opposite sex. Of the dating persuasion. (I guess outing myself as single on Twitter has its benefits.) However, after using Pair daily for a few weeks, my feelings on it are mixed.

While it is certainly a creative app that fills a void left by Path and Facebook, it still touches the cynical part of me that stubbornly resists the annoyingly cheesy part of a romantic relationship. The first time my Pair partner pressed the “Thinking of You” button, I groaned audibly. Luckily, he wasn’t around to hear it. (Yet at the same time, I swooned a tiny bit. See how I’m a conflicted hopeless romantic? Please don’t tell him.)

Being able to share pictures, or Moments, together is a lot of fun and also disruptive to my wireless carrier who is trying to get me to heavy up my SMS plan. (I’m a huge advocate of documenting my daily adventures in photo format and texting them out.) Moments are an area where I think Pair can improve: from that section of the app, it would be great to be able to scroll through each picture instead of tapping each one individually to open and close.

I really enjoy the drawing feature but perhaps that is because my Pair partner thinks that I can, in fact, draw. I initially thought he was mocking me. See why?

In my use of the app, it has stability issues that need to be shored up. While it doesn’t regularly crash, it does randomly send old Moments back into the stream or hold them back entirely to send later. This has caused confusion with my Pair partner more than once. Also, neither one of us has been able to successfully record a video and send it through the app. Email wins out there.

No review of Pair would be complete without mentioning the Thumb Kiss. I couldn’t figure it out and to be honest, am still not sure how to initiate one, but it is really cute/corny. A Twitter follower had good suggestion for this feature: adding tactile feedback so it is a little more obvious when the Thumb Kiss occurs. (I’m not sure if I’ve ever written a more ridiculous sentence than I did just then.)

Hamish from PandoDaily had some other great growth suggestions for the Pair team like linked bank accounts and synched calendars. These, along with some more functional tightening, make a lot of sense as they roll out future versions. Although in my burgeoning relationship we really only require the app for flirting. And flirting on Pair is ultimately a lot of fun.




As has been mentioned this week, I downloaded the freshly launched app Snapguide. And I do love it. To echo many sentiments, this app is absolutely beautiful and incredibly timely. And easy to use! I summed up my thoughts for Alexia like this:

“It is Instagram-level useful, Path-level beautiful and Pinterest-level addictive.”

Two of those apps have reached the mainstream audience as evidenced by my Facebook friends’ timelines. They are certainly not a group of early adopters but they are enthusiastic once they are introduced to, and find use for, a new product. I believe that Snapguide has the potential to grow in this fashion.

As Michael said, everyone has something that they’re good at. I struggled to find the courage to post mine as I’m typically a consumer rather than producer of content. I was put off on my first choice (hint, hint) in favor of something that I thought was a little more challenging, more useful and less girly (although that is debatable): Installing a Frame Cluster. [Cue FYNCT.]

The app is incredibly intuitive as it guides you through creating your How To. Choose from text only, video or photos as you create your guide. It allows ease in rearranging the order of the steps and just looks all around pretty while you’re using it. Say what you want about me, but aesthetics are important. Snapguide did crash on me once or twice, but that is to be expected and didn’t really turn me off.

Back when I first downloaded Snapguide, I posted a link to it on my Facebook profile with a recommendation that my friends download and try it out. Two did (horrible, horrible ROI), but hey, a Pinterest wasn’t exactly built overnight.

I had a lot of fun creating my guide and I’ll definitely contribute another one. Who knows, maybe the next guide I’ll make will be on sock puppets!