Lopeca is an interesting, if flawed, experiment. It presents the idea of virtual tourism, providing you with a way to connect with users in other countries and asking them to show you their world through a virtual walking tour. Fun in theory, the problem is - even if you can get over the oddness of connecting with a stranger - the app rarely seems to work satisfactorily.
Connect to connect
Before you start, Lopeca requires that you login using Facebook and allow it to use your location data. This can be set to only work when the app is in use or constantly, but why you would want to be at Lopeca’s beck and call 24/7 is beyond me.
After that you are presented with a map of the world with icons dotted all over it. Each icon has a number over it representing the number of users in a specific area (spoiler - there aren’t that many), and zooming in will see it break into smaller sections to further identify exactly where users are – right down to city and district.
Once you are down to individual users, tapping on them will reveal who they are (through their Facebook profile), and the languages they speak.
Hello! Who are you?
Right, now the scary bit, tapping Connect on any user will call them. Not a friendly handshake or quick message to see if they are free – but a full on call. Once connected you can see and talk to each other, with the person with whom you are connected able to give you a virtual tour of their area.
Great if it works, but even over our high speed office connection I was struggling to connect with others on the floor. Sometimes I could see them through a grainy stuttering image, while others times it just wouldn't call.
There are so many problems currently with Lopeca that it’s hard to be positive, which is sad because it’s not a bad idea. When trying out Yahoo Livetext, this is exactly what I used it for, with my friend showing me his new town from his phone camera.
All the room in the world to improve
Lopeca does get a few things right – like the nice clear interface that show previous connections, Facebook friends, and missed calls – but too many core features simply don’t work. Add to this a lack of users, and you have an app that falls well short of the potential of its core concept.