What’s the best surfing spot on Kuaui? Do they really wear lederhosen in Germany? What’s morning commuter traffic like in Mumbai?
With the free “pen pal” chat app YouMiGo, you can ask people who actually live in those places yourself!
Think of YouMiGo as a digital intercultural exchange, a way of getting to know from people around the world. Strike up a conversation by picking a region on the app’s global map and then querying the YouMiGo users in that area.
When you register, you can pick your exact location or a large city near you. Then, you can receive and respond to chat requests from folks who want to talk to people in your region. You can also invite friends to chat.
One neat feature: At first, the image of the YouMiGo user you’re talking to will be blurry. But the more you talk, the clearer the other person’s picture will get. Via YouMiGo, I easily chatted with Amanda from Brazil, who told me that she’s conversed with people from at least nine countries, including Greece, Ireland, China and the U.S.
When I asked her if she’s learned anything new by using YouMiGo, she replied, “A lot of things. My English is getting better, and I learn about [the] culture of other countries and make some friends, too.”
What if you pick a country whose language you don’t speak? No worries — the in-app Bing translator feature will translate for you! For instance, I had a brief talk with “Fantasy,” who texted in Chinese, while I replied in English. To understand what he was saying, I just touched the “tap to translate” feature in the chat balloon.
YouMiGo was created by seven students in Munich, Germany, and funded by AppCampus, a joint 21 million euro investment by Microsoft and Aalto University to finance and coach Windows Phone and Windows developers in mobile technology, design and usability.
Since the app was released at the end of April, almost 30,000 users from around the globe have written more than 600,000 messages to each other.
YouMiGo could be the 21st century version of a pen-pal exchange. Only there’s no need for airmail stationery and postage stamps!