Baffling App Lets iPhone Users Talk To Each Other On The Tube

By Holly Brockwell on at

There really is an app for everything, and now there's one for talking to iOS users on the London Underground.

TubeChat is an offline Bluetooth messaging system for talking to other people – well, people with iOS devices, currently – on your tube train when you're speeding through a tunnel far below the city. Honestly, when did life get so weird?

Obviously anyone who's been on the Underground knows you can only get WiFi service while you're in a platform, and you're definitely not getting normal phone signal on the bits that are properly underground. So the Bluetooth element of the messaging system makes sense.

What doesn't make sense is the idea that anyone's sitting on the tube thinking, "I wonder if any of these complete strangers want to go daytime raving." No, really, that's the example in the App Store screenshots:

You can also play I-spy with strangers, which is so adorably naïve, it actually makes our teeth hurt. Come on, TubeChat: a chat room with no moderators? It'll be dick pics and abuse within seconds.

Speaking of dick pics, getting a whole train's worth of people to turn on their Bluetooth seems like a bad plan: if you're going to get the app (why?), make sure you turn down unsolicited Bluetooth requests to avoid dodgy stuff transferring itself to your phone over the air.

Founder Nina Tumanishvili explains the idea with the usual "phones are bad" rhetoric:

"I was on the tube one day and realised that people were buried in their phones, lost in a closed world of their own. Technology had isolated them. I wanted to change that. I wanted to use technology to connect people and bring them closer."

Apparently it didn't occur that a lot of those people were probably engaging with other humans on their phones. You know, typing messages to their actual friends that'll send when the WiFi connects in the next platform.

While it claims to be about making friends, the promo video for TubeChat looks distinctly dating-y to us. We particularly love how he puts his hand on her lower back at the end and she goes in for a handshake. Brutal.

The official Twitter account does nothing to dispel this impression, tweeting out "tube chat up lines" that'll make you cringe for years.

Android users are blessedly free of TubeChat for the time being, but apparently an app is on the way if you want to hear the worst unmoderated thoughts of weirdos on the train. iOS users, fill your boots. But don't say we didn't warn you.