iPenpal iPhone app, by undaunted media, is a simple app designed to do one thing: Help you create conversations with people in other countries, continents, and cultures. And for the most part, it succeeds, but just as its simplicity can be a boon, it might also be the apps biggest drawback. When compared to other pen friend apps in the App Store, or even social networking sites like Facebook, the benefits iPenPal has to offer are sturdy but often minimalistic.
As stated, iPenPal iPhone app is—for the most—good at what it does. The first time the app is loaded, the user is presented with a series of steps to get their profile up and running. These steps include adding a name, interests, and (optionally) a picture to a profile which all other members of iPenPal can see. From there, users can select the continents they are interested in receiving letters from. Once set, they can begin their correspondences by sending letters to either random acquaintances or other users iPenPal has matched to them by interests. If the pen pals hit it off, they can add each other as friends. However, doing so only moves those acquaintances to a separate “friends” list, the benefit of which is hard to discern. In a way, iPenPal is similar to online dating, especially considering users maintain a star rating system that provides an idea of the quality of each user’s correspondences.
Other users have complained of frequent crashes, and though I didn’t experience any of these issues myself, I did find iPenPal a bit lacking. Though one can select areas of the world they’re interested in, there is no way to specify a preferred language for the conversation. Considering pen pals are such a great way to learn a new language, I found this disappointing. Also, there are no real safe guards against predators, aside from the star rating system, and most of the users I found were male. This didn’t bother me any, obviously, but women may find the overwhelmingly masculine presence intimidating.
Considering iPenPal is hardly more than a way to send correspondences at random around the globe, I find the app difficult to recommend. For a dollar, you get the same functionality one can find on Facebook, or several other pen pal sites across the web, most of which are free. Considering there is no way to set a preferred language, and no real guarantee against predation, the only real benefit of iPenPal is a dedicated set of pen pals. If that alone is a deal-maker for you, then it would certainly be hard to argue with the app’s bargain $ .99 pricing.
iPenpal iPhone app [ iTunes Link ] requires iOS 3.1.3 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.
The iPhone app reviews rating:
iPenpal iPhone Video Demo