You can now share long-distance hugs – is this the most depressing app ever?

Missing your loved ones from afar? You can now text your friends a phone vibration. Yes, really...

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Did you know the most popular “word” of 2014 was the heart emoji? In an age of global commerce, technological innovation and social media, our need to communicate affection from afar is growing – and it was only a matter of time before an app existed to satisfy our needs. 

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Enter: HUG – a new product that allows you to get as close to a virtual hug as you possibly can. Created by former Google employees Petter and Kaspar Prinz, the tool allows you to use your phone’s vibration function to send a “hug” to your phonebook contacts. Yes, this is what humankind has come to. 

How does it work? First, you create your hug by placing your phone against your chest – the app has an inbuilt proximity sensor and will start vibrating. When you want the hug to end, pull the phone away. 

Next step: choose what type of hug you want to send – is it excited? Sad? Loving? 

After you’ve done that, it’s time to send it to your chosen recipient who can “feel” your hug by placing their phone to their chest where it will vibrate according to your specified settings.

According to the app’s promotional video, “a hug can lead to biochemical and physiological reactions and boost your immune system, reduce stress, lower risk of heart disease, ease depression, fight infections and makes you happier.” But that’s a real-life hug – the sort of life-affirming, squeeze-the-air-out-of-your-lungs, loving embrace that’s basically what being a human is all about.

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Cool as HUG is, the thought of an app-generated vibration replacing the real thing is… depressing. In an age of Skype, FaceTime, Snapchat and more, a few clicks will find us face-to-face with our loved ones – do we really need a vibrating handset to feel the love from afar?