Lost Art of Random Phone Chats

Dialup, a voice chat app which throws its users together at random, has become an unexpected hit during lockdown loneliness.

Dialup, available for free on iPhones and Android phones, aims to "revive the magic of old telephones" by throwing its users together in random, anonymous pairs, just like every time you mis-dialed. Which, of course, rarely happens these days because everyone has everyone pre-programmed on auto-dial.

First launched in 2019, it has gone from handling an average of 40 hours of conversation per week in January and February to 1,330 hours per week in March and 2,300 hours per week in April.

Founded by a former Google software engineer who became disturbed by his utterly predictable "perfect life", so created apps to randomise where he lived, where he travelled and what he ate. Its other purpose was to puncture the anxiety that many of his millennial peers now feel about unexpected phone calls, often preferring safer but less nourishing written messages.

Ultimately, OGN Daily expects, its popularity has grown because it restores some of the random social spaces and interactions that we have lost – the bars and bus stops where spontaneous conversations might lead to life-changing relationships, or the public streets where we might unexpectedly run into a friend.

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