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No, you’re not back in 2020 when everyone was obsessed with their island in Animal Crossing. The year is 2023 and the pandemic lockdown is behind us, but everyone is busy personalising their virtual rooms thanks to the brand-new app Bondee.
Within a week of its official launch on January 17, the new social networking app has taken Asia by storm, topping app store charts in multiple countries. If you want to know why your friends have been sharing cutesy avatars and QR codes on their Instagram Stories, or posting screenshots of virtual picnics, read on for NME’s guide to the new app from the company Metadream.
What is Bondee?
Bondee is a new social networking platform developed by Singapore-based tech firm Metadream. Billed as a “next-gen social app”, Bondee features 3D-animated avatars (think Animal Crossing) that can be customised by users.
Whether it’s your avatar’s appearance, emotions (think facial expressions and status updates), hobbies, or the rooms it lives in, the world of Bondee is your oyster.
Through Bondee, users can chat with friends and have their avatars take part in virtual activities such as camping, swinging, dancing, sailing and more. Your avatars can visit each other’s rooms and even leave notes.
Why is Bondee so popular?
Since its launch in January 2023, Bondee has quickly become one of the most popular apps in Asia, topping the Social Networking rankings on the App Store in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. In Japan, Bondee ranks among the top 10, while the app has yet to break into the top 10 in South Korea.
The app has been praised by several users on social media for its customisability and its interactive activities, while others have made comparisons to games such as Animal Crossing, Habbo Hotel and Club Penguin.
How do I use Bondee?
First off, get the Bondee app here on the App Store or Google Play. Once you’ve downloaded the app on your device of choice, register your account using a mobile number and a password. From there, you’ll be able to customise an avatar to your preferences with a plethora of cosmetic options, from facial features to clothing, accessories/companions including a cat – and yes, you can pet the cat.
Next, you should add friends – there’s not much you can do in Bondee without them. Either search for their usernames or scan a QR code (we’ve found the latter to be a more efficient way of finding your pals). Upon successfully adding a friend, you can begin a chat with them. Apart from regular texting options, there are also customised emojis and actions that will affect both users in a chat. These range from sitting on a sofa, camping, having a picnic, clubbing (aka dancing) and sitting on a swing. Individual actions include standing around, sitting on the floor, a beanbag, rocking chair, books, piles of cash, jelly, on the toilet and more.
Users can even use a sailing function that allows their avatars to venture out into the digital world and meet random users that they can befriend. You will also be able to find random notes floating around the open sea and the chance to win prizes, including new gear.
At present, you can add up to 50 friends in Bondee.
How do I design my room in Bondee?
Once your avatar has been created, you’ll be able to design your own room with a varied selection of furniture and accessories including bookshelves, TVs, desks, sofas, potted plants, musical instruments and more. Probably the most customisable element of your Bondee room are the posters, which you can upload your own images for.
Go wild, but keep in mind that space in a room is limited so you should plan your room’s layout carefully to maximise its potential.
Once you add friends on Bondee, you’ll be able to see your room and theirs at a glance in a tessellation that resembles the cross-section of an apartment building.
Do I have to pay for Bondee?
The Bondee app is free to download. Its app store page, though, shows that there are in-app purchases available, where you can buy quantities of “B-Beans” with real cash.
B-Beans purchase price:
100 B-Beans – S$1.48/RM4.90/THB35/PHP49/JPY160/KRW1,500
500 B-Beans – S$6.98/RM23.90/THB179/PHP249/JPY800/KRW7,500
1000 B-Beans – S$14.98/RM44.90/THB349/PHP499/JPY1,600/KRW15,000
2000 B-Beans – S$28.98/RM94.90/THB729/PHP999/JPY3,200/KRW 30,000
3000 B-Beans – S$44.98/RM144.90/THB1,100/PHP1,490/JPY4,800/KRW45,000
5000 B-Beans – S$68.98/RM239.90/THB1,800/PHP2,390/JPY8,000/KRW79,000
At the time of publication, several outfits in the app are available for a “limited free trial”, suggesting that these outfits might have to be purchased using B-Beans once the trial runs out.
Who is behind Bondee?
Bondee is developed by Singapore-based tech startup Metadream. Metadream is an independent technology company that acquired the intellectual property rights to True.ly in May last year. True.ly was an app that had laid the foundation for what would eventually become Bondee, with the Metadream team making creative changes to True.ly for the last six months ahead of its launch earlier this year.
Apart from an office in Singapore, Metadream is currently working on Bondee in Japan and South Korea, where the company has product, research and development and operational bases. Per a press release, Metadream is currently planning to set up new operation centers in Thailand and the Philippines to meet “the immediate demands of local users”. (Metadream also runs three independent data centers in Singapore, Japan and the United States.) The official Bondee website is also advertising job roles in San Francisco and Seoul.
In addition to running Bondee, Metadream says it’s currently “developing a series of metaverse creative products”.
Is Bondee an NFT app?
It is currently unknown what Bondee’s NFT offerings will entail.