Developer: Brandon Bogle
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Getting lost in anonymous conversations or just expressing random thoughts is the premise behind the entertainment app Distant Shore.
Brought to us courtesy of The Blimp Pilots, the developers behind Koi Pond, Distant Shore puts a new spin on social networking. This app places a shoreline on your iPhone/iPod touch that you are free to wander about and while wandering, you can find bottles washed up on shore containing messages written by other users. Collect enough sea shells while walking the shore and you can send your own messages out to sea.
The concept behind Distant Shore is clever and the graphics are high quality. Ambient sounds of seagulls and rolling waves are the perfect accompaniment to the general scenery and are seamlessly blended in, serving as a background noise rather than a distraction. By tapping the screen, you can direct your footprints to wander the shore as you pass by random beach balls, lounge chairs, and other objects. Just as you begin to feel alone on your abandoned virtual beach, you happen upon a bottle. Each bottle contains a random message from someone else in the world.
Obviously, with Distant Shore you get all kinds of messages — from the random pick up line to the random proverb to the casual introduction or question. If you choose, you can reply to a message and engage in a conversation with a complete stranger — in complete anonymity.
Along with the ability to find bottles, you will also find seashells in Distant Shore. When you’ve collected five, you are awarded an empty bottle of your own. The empty bottles are stored in your beach bag inventory and by tapping the beach bag icon in the lower left of the screen, you can write your own message and launch it to sea where it will wash up on someone else’s Distant Shore.
Replies to your own messages are received by a tiny turtle hanging out behind your beach hut. In Distant Shore there is a beach hut icon in the lower right hand corner of your screen that will display a star when you have received a reply. Tapping the icon takes you directly back to your beach hut where you can retrieve it. Reply messages can go back and forth for as long as each party participates.
There is said to be a correlation in Distant Shore between the number of messages you send and the number of bottles you will find. With having only sent a few at a time, it’s difficult to say how closely linked one is with the other, but within the first 15 or 20 minutes of wandering my own beach, I did find a few bottles had washed up.
If you send out random questions, for instance, “Red Wine, or White?” or “Dark or Light Chocolate?” chances are a good natured recipient will reply. Replies are surprisingly quick, but it can become a bit daunting to manage your inventory as you only have eight spaces for storing messages. An increase in the number of spaces is said to be forthcoming, but it is easy to delete existing messages and make room for more. (Simply drag the message from the inventory screen out into the ocean or into a nearby bon fire.)
While the whole point to Distant Shore is to send and receive anonymous messages, it would be pretty cool to be able to interact with other objects, like the beach balls or to be able to change views to see the horizon. Yet for the price, Distant Shore provides a unique experience for iPhone users who like simple, social entertainment. An iPod touch will require a wifi connection to use Distant Shore.