Pair: A Social App That’s Just for Couples

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If you and your significant other were the last two people on Facebook, it’d probably look something like Pair.

The app, which launched this week for the iPhone, lets you communicate with one other person–ideally a spouse or romantic partner. Upon signing up, you provide an e-mail address for the person you want to pair with, and that person gets an invitation to the service. You can unpair whenever you want, but you can’t pair with more than one person at a time.

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Pair is not a social network, but it behaves like one. The main section of the app is a single stream of communication between you and your loved one, with pictures, video and shared locations posted directly on the timeline. When both partners are online, the app becomes like a chat program, letting you know when the other person is typing, and lighting up a button at the top of the screen that lets you initiate a Facetime conversation.

Pair has a couple other interactive features that are good for laughs. There’s a live drawing utility, which Pair says is excellent for Tic-Tac-Toe, but in my case resulted in my wife and I scribbling aimlessly and erasing each others’ etchings in real time. More charming is “ThumbKiss,” in which both partners press their thumbs together on their screens. When the thumbprints line up, both phones vibrate and the screen turns deep red.

Beyond the main timeline, Pair offers more features, including a to-do list that both partners can edit. There’s room for expansion here; I’m wishing for the ability to share calendar appointments, add time- or location-based reminders like the kind built into the iPhone and show more key dates beyond anniversaries and birthdays.

Because Pair is iPhone-only, I first wondered if TenthBit, the app’s makers, thought Android users were incapable of love. But Pair’s website says the team is “working really hard” on an Android version, and will fill you in on its progress via e-mail if you like. One other thing that needs attention: Once you’ve set a password in the app, there’s no apparent way to change it, though you can reset it through the web.

What intrigues me about Pair is that unlike Facebook and Twitter, it’s inherently not a place for narcissism. Anything you were going to brag about–such as a promotion or well-crafted meal–is merely conversation when it’s between you and a close companion. There’s no pandering for Likes or Retweets. Aesthetically, Pair feels like a social network, but without any social pressure.

I can see Pair as acquisition bait for Facebook, Twitter or even Path, which itself aims to be a more intimate social network. It’s not hard to imagine other companies wanting all the personal communication tools that Pair offers, not to mention the aggregate user data that the app is capable of gathering. But Pair is a strong enough idea to grow on its own–much like the relationships it aims to augment.

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