The best messaging platform ever invented can only connect you to one other person

Romance can be funny, too.
Romance can be funny, too.
Image: Reuters/Andrew Kelly
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Dating site HowAboutWe has been beefing up as of late: In January, the company launched a suite of sites dedicated to blogging on sex, dating, and couples (collectively called HowAboutMedia). Today, the media network ventures down another avenue, with a free messaging app for the monogamous.

You&Me is meant to be a catch-all for lovey dovey communications, but I have to admit that I didn’t test the app with a romantic partner. I tested it with my best friend. After several hours of mocking the features, we were in agreement: As two goofy, app-happy women in our early twenties, we had never seen anything better ever OMG what is life.

Like all of HowAboutWe’s products, You&Me is designed to bring couples together—and then keep them that way. “The mission has always been to help people fall in love and stay in love,” co-founder and co-CEO Aaron Schildkrout told Quartz. “You&Me is about devoting a unique space to the most important conversation in your life: The one you have with the person you love. There should be an icon dedicated to that person. There wasn’t a great app for that, so we designed it to serve that purpose.”

There actually is at least one app dedicated to messaging for couples—Between. But Between focuses on “moments,” and serves as a sort of collaborative scrapbook. If Between is like a Facebook that couples share in private, You&Me is a Snapchat that never disappears. That sounds contrary to the point of Snapchat, which deletes the image after a few seconds—but it actually makes sense.

Do people really want their mundane conversations to be this adorable?
Do people really want their mundane conversations to be this adorable?
Image: HowAboutWe

Schildkrout and fellow co-founder Brian Schechter set out to make an “ideal communication platform.” Like Snapchat, Instagram, and iMessage blended and streamlined, You&Me provides a myriad of options for courting couples suffering through even a few hours of separation: They can send photos (with different methods of sending straightforward, silly, and sexy images), text messages, songs, videos, and audio recordings. All of this is presented beautifully, and can be packaged into “scrapbooks” for later enjoyment.

Plus, unlike a lot of messaging platforms, the messages are presented in a continuous stream, so you never have to pause and hit a “load more” button while enjoying some romantic nostalgia.

The one standout feature, where couples are concerned, is the “secret” function.

A little silly, but pretty smart.
A little silly, but pretty smart.
Image: HowAboutWe

One way to send, shall we say private photos back and forth is to use ephemeral apps, like Snapchat. In sending such an image to your trusted partner, however the main concern isn’t permanence: It’s immediate privacy. No one wants a for-your-eyes-only shot opened on a crowded subway car. So You&Me lets you send images that are “fogged up,” with “steam” to be wiped away to reveal the image. A bit cheesy, perhaps, but rather brilliant: Private photos can remain in the stream of conversation permanently, with no worry that they’ll be revealed accidentally as you scroll through the messages in public.

But the feature that makes this app really, really feel like something the tween crowd will devour is “halfsies.” What are halfsies? These are halfsies:

Image for article titled The best messaging platform ever invented can only connect you to one other person

I suppose one could make the argument that making your half of the photo match up to the other half is some kind pair-bonding exercise. Indeed, it’s quite a feat to get it right. (We’re actually very proud of that last one.) In any case, this silly feature solidifies the app as something that friends will want to use. In my opinion, it’s more of a BFF-friendly app than a couple-friendly app.

There’s one problem with the best new BFF app on the market: You can only use it with one person.  “Given the explosion of messaging apps, I do think we’ve made the most elegant, smartest, useful messaging app ever created,” Schildkrout says, “and I’ve seen people ask to be able to use it with all of their friends.” But for now, it’s a one-on-one experience.

So You&Me probably won’t be upending Snapchat as the go-to for weird, embarrassing, and private photo shares. But if the app takes off, we’ve got one more place to feel self-conscious about when to define a relationship as “official”—sending that presumptuous email invite to start a You&Me conversation could be the new “Facebook official.”

And for those using the app for friends-only, the anxiety could be even higher: Which best friend is the one I’ll commit to? Let’s just say I won’t be surprised to hear that middle schools are being torn asunder, as girls and boys make their choices.