Down To Lunch, a new phone app created to make scheduling lunch dates and other social gatherings easier, has exploded in use across the University of Georgia campus since its initial release in late August.
The app was developed in May by two Stanford University graduates, Joseph Lau and Nikil Viswanathan, who said they initially created it for their own use.
“Originally the app was a way for Joe and I to reconnect with our friends from college who were living across San Francisco,” Viswanathan said.
The app itself is a button that allows users to press when they are available to eat, or in more recent versions, to meet up to hang out with friends. It instantly notifies all users' friends on the app that he or she wants to meet to eat, and friends who are interested text back.
The app instantly notifies anyone in a user's contact list who has also hit the button that the user has done the same and suggests the friends meet and eat.
Lau said there is a lot of social and scientific basis behind why the app works.
“It takes down a lot of weird and arbitrary social constructs that we force upon ourselves and makes everything less awkward,” Lau said. “For instance, studies have shown that if you contact someone three times, and they have to reject each time, even if it’s for legitimate reasons, you most likely won’t contact them again."
Lau said constant rejection ruins any relationship, but the DTL app takes away the aspect of people saying no and takes the pressure off of the contact to say yes as well.
"If you only receive the positive feedback when people want to spend time with you instead of hitting 10 people up individually and each of them saying no for various reasons, it helps relationships and makes people feel better as a whole,” he said.
The first DTL user at UGA was freshman Aakash Malhotra, who Viswanathan said found out about the app from an article on Tech Crunch.
The second user was Connor Pickett, a freshman from Roswell, who learned about it from Malhotra.
“It is quicker and simpler than texting a bunch of people because you just press a button, and it sends a notification to a bunch of your friends," Pickett said. "Also, you never know who is going to reply, so you could get lunch with someone you haven’t seen in a while or just someone unexpected."
Pickett said an advantage over texting is not dealing with the awkwardness of read receipts or rejection of plans.
"Someone usually replies to your DTL notification, or it doesn’t really matter because you didn’t personally invite anyone,” he said.
Bayley Wiggins, an international affairs student from Dacula, said she uses the app to meet up with friends she doesn't normally have a chance to eat with.
"The app allows me to see who all happens to be available when I'm available," she said. "I'll normally just text people if I already know who I want to meet with and if they're available.”
Lau worked with Pinterest, one of the fastest growing social media platforms, for a year prior to developing DTL, and Viswanathan rejected a job offer from Facebook to work on the app.
And both said they have committed to keeping ads off the app because DTL is more than a job for them.
“It’s so awesome to see what friendships we’ve helped foster or create and the other positives,” Viswanathan said. “We’ve gotten such awesome feedback so far, and the reward for us is knowing that we’ve brought happiness to people’s lives.”