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January 22, 2018

‘Die With Me’ is a chat you can only access when your phone’s almost dead

by John_A

There are some pretty darn weird, useless apps out there, but a new one really takes the cake. Called “Die With Me,” it’s a chat app for iOS and Android that can only be accessed when your smartphone has less than five percent battery remaining. At this point, you can log into a chatroom, populated exclusively by other similarly battery-challenged folks, to bid each other farewell. And it’s strangely poignant.

“I have to travel a lot to speak about my work at all sort of conferences,” Die With Me co-creator Dries Depoorter told Digital Trends. “I was in a city that I didn’t know on my way back to the hotel, and my phone battery was low. I was really stressed about this as it was already turning to night. At that moment, I had the idea for an app that you can only use when you have low battery. But I didn’t know how it would work until we came up with the idea of making it a public chatroom.”

The beta version was demonstrated at the DocLab Academy program for interactive artists, part of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. It was co-created with developer David Surprenant. It was well-received, but efforts to get it into the App Store proved tricky.

“We had many phone calls with Apple about the app,” Depoorter explained. “For Android, it was really simple, they don’t have a difficult review process. But Apple was different. We think the iOS App Store is really killing creativity, and we know a lot of artists that have had similar problems.” Ultimately, they were allowed in — and Die With Me quickly shot to  No. 15 in the App Store’s Entertainment category.

What makes Die With Me interesting is that everyone can relate to the idea on some level. While there are some situations in which a smartphone running out of battery can genuinely pose risks to our safety, in most cases it’s simply a nuisance — and yet it temporarily cuts the cord of connectivity that loosely tethers us all together. As psychologist Sherry Turkle might say, we’re “alone together,” until suddenly we’re not.

Depoorter said the app has so far recorded more than half a million messages in conversation. There is an average of eight people in the chatroom at any one time. Depoorter also said he and Surprenant plan to make a book with a selection of the conversation.

Well, provided they don’t run out of juice before completing it!

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