What happened to Randonautica: from a viral app to explore random places to a festival of micropayments

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From Telegram bot to app

For the uninitiated, Randonautica is basically an app where you receive random coordinates within a radius of your location, with the idea that you go explore them. In simple words, it is something like a Pokémon Go, but without Pokémon. And without knowing what you will find on the other side.

This second point is the most important, because it is you who must set the intention of what you want to find, while the random coordinates are generated. The arguable “scientific” basis of the matter is that user intent can cause small alterations in random number generation. Those “anomalies” are what the app uses to tell you where to go.

Initially, Randonautica was a Telegram bot: you sent it a location and it replied with a place to explore

The tricky part of randonautics is in this quantum random number generation, but otherwise the concept is pretty straightforward. So much so that in its beginnings Randonautica it was a telegram bot. You would send it a location, usually yours, and it would return a place to explore based on these “anomalies” in random number generation. The bot is no longer active, but its code is on GitHub.

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In the beginning, Randonautica was simpler: a Telegram bot

From the bot came the Randonauts subreddit and by February 2020 they already have the application ready. Is ugly and clunky first app It makes it easy to generate these places worth exploring and gives us some additional options, such as the maximum distance radius of your location, the type of anomaly or what kind of random number generation you are going to do.

The app comes with a owl icon which could well have been designed in WordArt that would remain during its peak popularity, although it has later been stylized in recent versions.

Pandemic and controversy, bases of its success

Randonautica had its loyal following long before it was Randonautica, but it couldn’t be said to be a particularly popular app, even among similar geocaching apps. His moment of greatest popularity would coincide with a tragedy: A young tiktoker went to the recommended place after setting her intention on “something evil” and ended up finding something really evil: a suitcase containing human remains.

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Randonautica rose to fame after several viral videos with some of the findings, such as bodies in a suitcase

As expected, in the following weeks Randonautica was the center of attention not only on TikTok (the original video has since been removed) but on news outlets around the world. The app went from having more than 1 to 5 million downloads in three weeks and, beyond the suitcase and/or whether we believe that the mind can affect the generation of random numbers or not, we are talking about the first year of the pandemic and there weren’t many entertainment opportunities back then either.

In the first year of COVID, Randonautica gave us an excuse to leave the house in search of an adventure while respecting social distancing

After all, the app gave you an excuse to go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go looking for an adventure in an activity that was often compatible with the social distancing rules of the time. Going out to hunt Pokémon means that everyone ends up at the same Poképarada or hunting the same Bulbasur, but here each anomalous place to go is theoretically unique and personalized.

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Randonautica in 2020: crude, but simple

For many, the Randonautica of that time is the Randonautica they know, if they even installed it back then, and the fact that we haven’t heard much about the app since then It can give us to understand that the app has ceased its activity or disappeared.

It is not like this. Randonautica continues but it is undeniable that the app has lost traction since that crazy july 2020, going back to a very specific group of fans and not so much the masses. This is evident when looking at the peak of Google searches for Randonautica from its inception to the present.

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Interest in Randonautica over time, in Google Trends

Although it took Randonautica three weeks to go from 1 to 5 million downloads, it would not reach the next tranche of Google Play downloads (10 million) until seven months later, in February 2021. It remains there for more than a year late, still not reaching 50 million.

Then came micropayments

Randonautica has been religiously updated practically every month since then and the truth is that the application has changed a lot if we compare it with how it was in its beginnings. To begin with, the owl of the icon is still there, although somewhat less creepy.

The app in general looks a little more polished and less mysterious, although probably the most radical change was the arrival of monetization. Now you can choose between a standard or Pro experience. If you don’t pay, some features are limited.

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Randonautica Pro it costs 3.99 euros per month or 39.99 euros per year and it guarantees you unlimited trips and personalized locations, although not all limitations go away. In its store you can pay 1.99 euros to be able to extend the maximum radius of a point up to 29 kilometers or 0.69 euros to avoid the app recommending you visit a lake or in the middle of the sea. The app even has some paid themes, at 0.69 euros each.

If you do not want me to suggest exploring in the middle of a lake, you must pay 0.69 euros

Without a subscription, you can still use Randonautica for free, though every time you generate a point the virtual currency is used of “owl tokens”. Every day you receive 150 owl tokens, enough for a maximum of 10 generations of places. If you need more, you can buy 600 for €1.99 or 6,000 for €12.99.

Randonautica is still alive, although more niche

So that, what happened to Randonautica? Basically nothing. The application is still standing and still has its loyal users, but that mass of curious people who jumped on the bandwagon a couple of years ago after those viral videos of 2020 generated more viral videos of dubious veracity, are today dedicated to other stuff.

In Randonautica are the most committed randonauts, who continue to post information about their trips both on the app and on Reddit. There is not a lot of movement, everything is said, but there is, there is.

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Randonauts continue to post what they find both in the app and on Reddit

Beyond esotericisms, creepypasta and chaos theory, Randonautica delivers by offering you an excuse to escape your routine by going somewhere you’d never go before, paying close attention to what you’d find there. in a way was never an app for the masses so it is normal that it has returned to its niche a bit.

At least for now. You never know when some randonaut will come across something amazing again that will make headlines again and bring fresh blood to the app. In the meantime, Randonautica is still there, more or less as it was two years ago but with a few more micropayments and a new icon.