In the age of social media, you may feel like you’re keeping up with your friends and family, but the reality is that “liking” their posts isn’t the same thing as reaching out directly to say hello and check in on how they’re doing. That’s where a newly launched app called Catchup can help. This simple tool aims to help you make your moments of connection more intentional, so you don’t end up drifting apart from those people you care about.
Launched this week on iOS, Catchup was built by Chris Lee, head of design at Sprig, who says the idea was inspired by an issue he’s had his whole adult life. He often forgets to stay in touch with friends and family as he prioritizes immediate demands on his time over his long-term commitments.
“I have friends and family who live elsewhere. I’d find that months and even years would go by without us talking,” Lee admits to TechCrunch. “It wasn’t that I don’t value them—these people matter to me dearly—but I realized that I don’t naturally remember to stay in touch. And among others I know, I’ve seen this seemingly tactical issue cause drifts or even conflicts in friendships,” he says.
Lee noticed the problem is a common one and said it was validating to see the issue discussed in new sociological research, covered last year by The New York Times, which indicated that people tend to underestimate how much friends like to hear from them. Across over a dozen experiments the researchers conducted, those who initiated contact significantly underestimated how much it would be appreciated, they found.
To use Catchup, you select the friends and family you want to remember to stay in touch with and how frequently you want to check in. When you talk or meet, you tap in to mark the occasion and keep track of how often you’re staying in touch.
The app will make note of how often you’ve checked in and your contacts’ birthdays — so you don’t have to rely on Facebook for that reminder.
Lee released a beta build of Catchup a month ago, he says. Some 2,000 testers gave it a go and found that it really resonated with them, sharing with Lee stories about how it helped them to become more intentional in their relationships.
“And personally, I’ve seen it work for me, which is super motivating,” Lee adds.
The app allows you to try it out for free for up to 2 contacts. However, to get the full experience, an $8 in-app purchase unlocks unlimited contacts, notifications, and a widget for your Home Screen that reminds you which people you need to check in with soon.
Simple, single-purpose utilities that unlock features with a one-time purchase are a rare find on today’s App Store, where so many developers have shifted to subscriptions. For that reason, as well, Catchup is a breath of fresh air.
And in a way, it’s a better social app than those dubbed “social media,” Lee believes.
“I feel like the original purpose of a lot of the technology we use today—phones, smartphones, the internet—is to connect with people. But it seems to me that while we have lots of ways to communicate with people, our technology hasn’t really helped us develop the habit of doing so with depth. So that’s my intention with the app,” he explains. “I think of it as social’ technology, but in a way that’s completely different from traditional ‘social media,’” he adds.