Nearly every photography app I can possibly think of always comes back to one thing: social. No one shares just to share. It’s all about seeing people like your photos, getting followers, and expanding your footprint on the Internet. I get the value in services like Instagram, where all of your photos are tracked and stuffed into discovery feeds, but I’ve always been intrigued by the things people do when they aren’t being watched. Or when there’s no repercussions for their actions. A new app called Rando lets me live out a small piece of this wonder.
Developed by the folks who brought you the game Whale Trail, Rando is an anonymous photo sharing app where you have to share photos, in order to get photos. You do have to make an account to use the service, but none of the pictures you receive have any information attached, save for where they were taken. You can’t like or favorite the photos you receive (you can mark them inappropriate, though who would do that, really). You can’t follow anyone. It’s pure and simple. That’s really all there is to it. I kept thinking, “There has to be more to it.” I thought maybe I was missing something. But the more I explored, and the less I found, the more I began to like Rando.
Let me take you through the process of using Rando. Everything is circle shaped; the app icon, the upload indicator and the photos themselves, all circles. It looks really neat and kind of adds to the mystery. Anyway, continuing on, when you first sign in to Rando, you are greeted with a red circle. Press the circle to take a photograph. You can’t use the gallery here, you can only use freshly taken photographs. After you take a photo, it’s uploaded to Rando, and you wait to receive a photo. The main landing page of Rando is a feed of photos you’ve received in exchange for the photos you’ve sent out. You can tap these photos once to see where they were taken, or double tap to delete from your feed or mark inappropriate.
So far, I’ve received photos ranging from blurry brown nothings, to someone’s retainer, to a stack of women’s clothing. They’ve come from as close as Texas and California, and from as far as Russia. Every spare moment I have, I find myself uploading something to Rando. And every time, I wonder who will get it, and what they will think. Rando probably won’t win any awards or much notoriety for being the hot new photo sharing app of the moment, but much like the photos you send in Rando itself, it doesn’t need to.
Sifting through handfuls of photographs of new shoes, dinner plates, cats and babies, I used to wonder what people would share if they weren’t trying to show off to friends and family, or hunting for likes and followers. With Rando, I feel like I finally know.