Something kind of funny happened last week: A wonky little app called Peach emerged out of nowhere and quickly climbed the rankings in Apple's mobile app store. Within a day or so, the gif-centric download went viral, drawing coverage from any media outlet that covers social media.

The app was the ninth most popular download from the app store by Monday, according to TechCrunch. By Thursday, the rank dropped out of the top 10 to spot 17. Some declared Peach dead upon its launch, but there’s no stampede of media outlets heralding failure just yet.

Should Peach rise and fall quickly, it won’t be the first social media app that can’t survive more than 15 minutes of viral fame. There was the ad-free Ello, and video streaming service Meerkat. Both still exist, but neither really kept its momentum going. For now, Peach is here.

Where did Peach come from?

Peach was created by Vine cofounder Dom Hofmann and is available for free through the iOS app store. It is not available on Android. There are a lot of theories out there about why Peach is having such a moment. An echo chamber of hype in Silicon Valley doesn't hurt.

What do you do with Peach?

A key feature of Peach is its use of “magic words,” or command line prompts. Type “gif” to search gifs. Type “goodmorning” to post the time and weather at your location. Type “rate” to post a rating of up to five stars of whatever is it you want to rate. It’s goofy. You can also share music with Peach and, as with other apps, tag friends.

What makes Peach different?

Peach has a few unique features other than command line prompts. Posts are arranged in chronological order with the newest post on the bottom, so that if you scroll to the top of a person’s profile you’ll see their first post rather than their last. Peach has no newsfeed - you have to visit individuals’ profiles to see what they’ve posted. This siloing of profiles gives Peach a more intimate feeling than Facebook or Twitter. At the same time, the app lacks privacy by not offering a direct message option.

Is Peach an effective tool for communication?

Like Twitter, users don’t have to go by their real names on Peach. A lot of people are using celebrity names. Some have apparently made accounts for brands, without those brands realizing it. It’s unclear how well the verification feature works. It appears all users have to accept friend requests from those wishing to follow them, which can be tedious for a company, brand or media outlet seeking to quickly build a large audience.

You can’t message anyone privately on Peach. Profiles appear to be comprised largely of gifs and posts about the weather. To answer the question of whether Peach is an effective tool for communication - well, it’s certainly not a tool for clear communication. It almost seems like it’s designed to prevent that.

Should I be on Peach?

If you want to be on Peach, sure.

Published on: Jan 15, 2016