Find new friends in your area with Minus

Minus is a new, free social networking app for iOS. The App Store page for the app links to an online photo-sharing service by the same name, but does not appear to have anything to do with said service in terms of functionality.

Minus markets itself, as with so many other social apps on the App Store, as a means of meeting new people in the user’s local area. The app allows users to post location-tagged photographs to its built-in proprietary social network, then look for other photos and users nearby in order to make new friends and communicate with them.

Taking a photo with Minus is a simple matter of tapping the camera button in the lower-middle of the app’s toolbar. Upon doing so, the user is prompted to add a caption (optionally including hashtags) and, if they desire, to edit the photograph. Editing tools include cropping; rotation; stickers; Instagram-style filters; automatic enhancements; manual adjustment of brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness; freehand drawing; red-eye reduction; tooth-whitening; text; blemish removal; and the ability to add “meme” text in the popular Impact font at the top and bottom of the image. The editing tools are the work of Aviary, a company that provides a robust photo-editing SDK for mobile and Web apps, and are extremely solid.

After the photo has been taken, its “approximate” location is shared — usually the town in which it was taken — and it is posted onto Minus’ network, at which point it becomes publicly viewable.

When browsing through others’ photographs, users have the option to “like” it or share it via email, text message, Facebook, Twitter or their device’s clipboard. They can also flag it for inappropriate content. There is not, however, a comment facility — a curious omission. Users who wish to engage with others are instead encouraged to tap through the the poster’s profile and send them a private message — there is no need for users to be mutual friends in order to chat with one another, and indeed there is no means of “following” or “friending” another user, only marking them as a “favorite.” Users abusing the service may also be reported or blocked.

An individual user’s profile is much more detailed than that seen in other mobile-social networks. The default view displays the last short status message they chose to broadcast, how far away they are, their age, how many photos they have posted and when they were last active, along with their last few photographs. Tapping through to their Details page, however, allows the user to see additional information about their new friend, including freeform “About Me” text, their occupation, education information, hometown and hobbies or interests. It is not compulsory to fill out this information, but the user’s own profile displays prominent exclamation point marks on aspects which have not been filled in, encouraging people to be as detailed as possible.

Minus is a relatively solid mobile-social app, but as with so many apps of this nature, it’s difficult to see it drawing users away from more well-established photo-sharing solutions such as Instagram, and the lack of such a basic feature as public commenting is very strange. On the positive side, its Aviary-powered image manipulation tools are excellent and the app in general is well-designed and intuitive to navigate — it’s just questionable how much it will capture the imagination of the public at large.

You can follow Minus’ progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.