Slowly app review: Penpals in the digital age

Slowly logo

The Slowly app for iOS and Android is a different take on meeting people and making friends online. While most apps have the goal of getting people connected quickly, Slowly works the opposite way by being well, slow. Let’s see why Slowly stands out from the other gazillion social apps out there. 

Background Info on the Slowly app 

Photo of Kevin Wong, the founder of Slowly Communications and creator of the Slowly app

Slowly was first launched in 2017 on iOS and later Android in 2018. It was founded by Kevin Wong who formerly ran a design studio for 8 years before deciding to do something else and start Slowly Communications Ltd. 

How it works: Slowly, not quickly

The Slowly app is a unique take on making pen friends, penpals, or online friends. Depending on where a person lives, sending a message will take anywhere from 30 minutes to possibly more than a day. It may sound frustrating or inconvenient at first, but that’s the beauty of it.  

By making messages take a long time to reach their recipient, it makes people put more time and effort into the messages that they write, similar to writing a letter in real life.  

Making an account

Signing up is pretty simple. Download the app for your smart device and start making an avatar. I made something that I thought was an okay representation of me.

Screenshot of the avatar creation system in Slowly
You can change head shape, skin color, facial features, clothing, etc.

Add to your profile

You’ll want to choose some topics that you’re interested in that will help the Slowly app better match you with people that have similar interests.

Screenshot of selectable topics
You can see here I’ve chosen a few topics to get going.

Finding People to Write to

After you’ve registered, got your avatar made, and filled in your profile with topics you like plus a short introduction, you’re ready to meet some people.

Matching options in the Slowly app
You’ve got a few choices. You can have Slowly auto pair you up with someone that has similar interests, or you can view a list of people that might be near your region or share the same interests.

Okay, so I found a person that lives in Taiwan and I think we both happen to like movies. I can now choose to send her a message to get started.

The Slowly app yelled at me for this being too short, so I ended up writing more after taking this screenshot.

I was then informed that it would take about 6 hours for my message to reach its intended recipient. So now all I need to do is sit back and wait.


Before sending a message each time, you can choose what kind of stamp you want to put on the “envelope”. You have some free default ones, but during certain holidays or if you pay a small fee, you can unlock special ones to add to your letters that get sent to your penpals. This is how Slowly makes its money, but I have no idea if this is really profitable or not because I’m certainly not spending money on special stamps. However, I’m not a kid with a smartphone, so who knows.

Screenshot of the Slowly app's stamps.

Receiving a message from someone

You’ll get a notification when someone has sent you a message. But remember, this is all about being slow and taking your time, so you won’t be able to see the message right away. Instead, you get a nice map showing where the message is coming from and how long it will take to reach you.

Screenshot of receiving a message

Web version

When I tried Slowly several years ago, it was always painful to write long messages on my phone. Maybe my age is showing, but I personally prefer a keyboard for writing out long emails and messages. At the time, the app was only available for mobile devices and there was no version for computers. I am happy to say that as of September 2019, Slowly can now be accessed by a web browser. It still requires the app to get everything set up, so it’s not completely an independent site.

Final Thoughts on the Slowly app

If you find yourself with some free time and wanting to meet new people or even practice a foreign language, this could be the most unique way to do it. The way the Slowly app builds anticipation for receiving messages as well as providing the motivation to write more than just a simple hello, it’s one of the most interesting ways I’ve found to meet new people online. It’s not for everyone, but give it a try. You might just be surprised how far away you can make friends.

Download it! (iOS)
Download it! (Android)

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