Peach app is flavour of the month

  • 11 January 2016
  • From the section Technology
  • comments
Peaches Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Peaches have a limited shelf life - and so might the Peach app

Every so often a new app or website will suddenly appear on the tech scene and get everyone talking.

You might remember Ello, dubbed the "anti-Facebook", which exploded on to the market in late 2014 only to be mostly forgotten about by 2015.

And then Meerkat, a live video streaming app which gained early momentum but is now overshadowed by Periscope, the Twitter-owned app that essentially does exactly the same thing.

More recently, there was Yo. An app that only allowed people to say Yo to each other. Mmm.

This weekend, we were given another app to add to the sudden success case study pile.

Image copyright Peach
Image caption The Peach app was created by the man behind video sharing app Vine

Peach is a social network that allows you to send messages or "actions" like waving, kissing, and "caking" - which I guess means "to give some cake".

That's not particularly innovative, but Peach has a neat little function in its text commands. Rather than tapping your way through menus to post a picture or suchlike, Peach has a range of commands that make posting richer content easier.

If you type "draw", a little drawing panel comes up and you can have a doodle. Typing "gif" allows you to quickly search for animated gifs that best portray your mood. "Move" shows how many steps you taken. "Here" adds your location.

It's an impeccably simple way of giving an app a lot of functionality without bloating it with intimidating menus. And it's a nice nod back to early days of computing when nothing would start without you first typing "RUN".

Magic formula

They call them Magic Words, which I'd say is marketing masterstroke if it takes off. You can certainly imagine people asking "what's the magic word?" in relation to certain commands.

Aside from the concept itself, the app's sudden popularity is being attributed mostly to its founder, Dom Hoffman. Twitter bought his other creation, Vine, in October 2012.

I'd say the smart money lies on something similar happening again. Magic Words aren't revolutionary enough to warrant using Peach long-term. But, integrated into other social networks, it's a user interface that is massively satisfying.

In the middle of CES last week, Facebook put out something of a status update about its Messenger app and service, which is used regularly by around 800m people.

In a briefing call, Stan Chudnovsky from the Messenger team told me that one of the most significant recent additions to Facebook Messenger was direct integration with Uber — meaning you can book your car from within the Messenger app, rather than loading up Uber separately.

Peach's Magic Words could bring this kind of integration to the next level. A company's Magic Word may end up being as important as its web address, if not more so.

Fade away

Or, alternatively, Peach could just fade away into obscurity. Overnight successes (that have been worked on for months) rarely stick around.

As I've mentioned, anti-Facebook network Ello took off in 2014, with at one point more than 31,000 new user sign-ups every hour.

Then the money came flooding in - around $5.5m (£3.4m) pledged by several investors.

But after that incredible spike, the excitement kind of just stopped.

I mean, Ello still exists - according to the site's "recent posts" page there's something added every minute or so. But the hype disappeared even quicker than it arrived, as evidenced by this Google Trends graph showing the frequency of people searching for "Ello".

Image copyright Google Trends
Image caption This Google Trends graph shows the spike in popularity of Ello in September 2014

It's hard to track Peach's impact so far. Google searches and tweets are tainted with people searching for the fruit… and so far the app doesn't appear to have broken into the App Store chart.

But it has certainly got people talking. Recode called it the "app du jour for the kids at the cool tech table", while Mashable referred to it as the "slick" app everyone is talking about.

But for how long?

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC (and, for the time being at least, davelee on Peach)