iPhone App Review: Bubbly

iPhone App Review: Bubbly

May 3rd, 2012 by

Launching an entirely new social network is hard stuff, not because the space is so crowded but because there are two giants at the top making it hard for anyone to get the attention they need to get off the ground (even Google’s feels lonely and cold lately). Developer Bubble Motion has been nurturing a new service called Bubbly that’s been doing well around the world and they are now trying to get us addicted here as well. Think of it like Twitter for voice, where you record short messages that are then broadcast to all of your followers.

How It Works

If you took my advice and thought about Twitter for voice, then you’re pretty much up to speed on how the service works. The app itself features everything you would expect: a stream of feeds from those people you follow, a “discovery” tab where you can find new users to follow, a feed that shows what people are following you and what they’re saying, and a profile page where you can edit and fine-tune your online persona.

Adding a new post is as simple as tapping the giant “+” button in the middle of the bottom toolbar. You can type text and/or record your voice, and then send it out into the wilds to be ignored or praised. The service has been active for a while overseas and has a huge stable of users already, including many celebrities with hundreds of thousands of followers, though for the time being you’ll be hard-pressed to find any of the voices speaking much English.

You can post just to Bubbly and easily share your posts on Twitter and Facebook. The app also lets you search your Twitter and Facebook feeds for other Bubbly users. The service and app are both free, though to get unlimited access to the entire “catalog” of celebrity feeds you need to pay an unlock fee of $2.99.

Pros and Cons

Bubbly feels like a polished and streamlined service, which is expected since this isn’t a cold launch from nothing: it’s been in use for some time overseas. The app is stable and slick, and navigating the features is easy and intuitive. If you’re familiar with social networks then I expect you will be able to find anything you’re looking for: followers, feeds, streams, activity around your profile, putting your own profile picture up. It’s all available right within the app. In fact, I don’t think there is even a website-based version of the service, it’s used entirely within the app.

The business model is unique, since there are no advertisements (currently) within the app. It’s free to use, but you have to pay to see all of the celebrity feeds. I don’t know what the criteria is as to who is enough of a celebrity to warrant being behind the locked gate, but it’s clear within the app who you can follow and who you can’t. Time (and the users) will tell if this model of un-lockable content is something Western users will flock to.

Although I couldn’t understand most of what I listened to in the few feeds that I tried out, I recognize how unique and addictive it can be to hear your favorite celebrity talking, instead of reading some 140-character spew of nonsense that they had their publicist or teenage intern type. When it’s their voice, you know you’re connected to them, even for that brief span of 10-40 seconds or so. Comics can make a quick funny while stuck in traffic, musicians can record and distribute a sample of a show they played the night before. The possibilities of using your own recordings and posting them as a social feed are endless and limited only by your imagination.


Bubbly is a fun and active social network that takes the idea of sharing your thoughts to the next obvious level, your voice. Whether that appeals to you or not is an entirely personal decision, but I suspect there are some out there who are just dying to let the world hear their deepest, most private inner thoughts… or their most offensive inappropriate humor. It’s a mixed bag or possibilities.

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