Feeling lonely? Make friends by sending a digital paper plane around the world

Do you have a need to know that you’re not alone in the world? A digital paper plane from a stranger might do the trick.

In honor of International Day of Peace, Google and Active Theory have released a Paper Planes app, an Android Experiment that seeks to bring people together. First debuted in May at Google I/O, the app lets you virtually throw a paper airplane to anyone in the world, giving users some sense of connectivity. You can even stamp your airplane so that recipients know where in the world you are (and you can discover new parts of the world, too). And when your plane ultimately comes back home (it’s really like a digital boomerang), you’ll be able to see all the places to which it traveled.

The app makes use of a combination of WebSockets, WebGL, and WebWorkers, which helped developers render and “place” the plane in a wireframe world. Firebase Cloud Messaging, background services, and native Nougat inline replies allow for more communication between users, helping them feel a bit more in touch with their 21st century pen (or rather, plane) pals.

Even though you’ll never hold the physical paper plane in your hands, the app does everything it can to make the process feel somewhat tangible. You have to “fold” the paper, flick your phone to send it off, and shake your phone to catch a new plane — and if you visit paperplanes.world in your web browser, you can watch your plane take flight.

It’s a simple concept, but one that certainly pays homage to an oft-neglected aspect of the human psyche — loneliness. So whether you’re just interested in flying a virtual paper plane or looking to establish a fleeting yet recognizable connection with another human somewhere across the country — or world — you can check out Paper Planes on the Google Play Store.

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