You just got out of your third class of the day, and it’s only 12:30 p.m. All you want is to meet up with your friends and get something to eat, but everyone has a different schedule, and making impromptu plans over text is practically impossible.

Enter Joseph Lau and Nikil Viswanathan, a pair of San Francisco-based app developers wanting to change the way you make plans. Their solution is called “Down to Lunch” (DTL), and it has swept across college campuses throughout the U.S.

According to its website, DTL was released in August of last year, and initially was meant to be a tool for Joe and Nikil’s personal friends. Soon after, the app was discovered by a freshman attending the University of Georgia, and exploded in popularity across the campus. By January, the app had hit phones across the country. Less than a year since its inception, DTL reached the Top 20 on Apple’s App Store, and was being used for everything from meeting for coffee to throwing DTL-themed parties.

You may have realized that this is not the first app of its kind. Apps like Hangster and Shortnotice have also attempted to make on-the-spot meetups easier and less awkward. DTL’s simplicity succeeds where other apps have failed. After installing the app, you set up your name and phone number, and it will automatically find friends who also have DTL on their phone. Whenever you find yourself with some free time, simply select a category, a location, and hit the big square button in the middle of the screen. All of your friends will get a notification that you want to hang out, and they have the option to text you back through the app.

If you are afraid that DTL casts too large of a net with its notification approach, fear not. There are plenty of customizable features that let you be as selective as you wish. If you want to just hang out with your closest friends, for example, you can create a list of specific people, and only send your DTL notification to them. If you want to get together with a study group, you can create a separate list for that. Despite the name of the app, DTL  is flexible enough to be used for any occasion.

Some of the options available on the app are: Down to Dinner, Down to Chill, Down to Study, Down to Gym, Down to Drink, and Down to Get a Ride. It even has location-specific options. UR has Down to DFO, Down to Douglass, Down to Gleason, Down to GAC, and Down to College Town.

I was skeptical of DTL at first, but after trying it out, I can honestly say it works really well. One day after class I brought some food to the library to get some work done. Feeling a little lonely, I alerted some friends that I was down to study at the POA. Within twenty minutes, two people showed up. Twenty minutes after that, three more showed up, and we had a successful, spontaneous study session happening. There was no need for awkwardly asking for people to join me, and no negotiating times and locations over text. I just let people know where I was and that I was free, and everything happened naturally.

DTL is a simple and innovative way to make impulsive planning more achievable and accessible. But, you might ask, could this be just another fad, as easily forgotten as Flappy Bird or YO? Sure, it could be. However, the difference between DTL and apps like YO is that DTL effectively serves a real need. Its sustained growth over the past year is evidence of its effectiveness, and there are no signs of a slowdown anytime soon. So the next time you find yourself bored and alone, just ask: “You DTL?”



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