On August 2, this past Chinese Valentine’s Day (Qixi), Loving.fm (Chinese name Xiaoenai) added a period notification feature so that girls can inform their boyfriends of their periods. The app has recently launched an English edition in full swing.

Unlike period trackers Dayima and Meet You which specialize in fertility and pregnancy prevention, Loving.fm’s period notification “Aunt Flo” is a simple message board that shows timing of one’s period. Girls can then avoid the awkwardness of explicitly telling their boyfriends the ‘aunty’ has arrived, and mindless guys can now remember their girlfriends’ ‘time of the month.’

The 'Aunt Flo' notification feature

‘Aunt Flo’ lets girls inform their boyfriends of the time of the month

Most couple apps have standard features such as photo sharing, private messaging, diary, social network and other special in-app moments. Loving.fm also has a Sleep/Wakeup key to simulate saying good-night/making a morning call.

Enter "Sleep" mode to let your important other know you are going to bed. Hit" wake up" to send an alarm.

In the Sleep mode, one can send an alarm to his/her important other by hitting ‘Wake up’.

Loving.fm’s ‘Distance’ is a location feature that lets couples know how far they are apart, which could be useful when meeting up in a new place. It’s a push-only function and doesn’t show the exact location. An always-on location function would probably scare some couples away.

"Distance" lets couples know their physical distance apart

“Distance” lets couples know their physical distance apart

Couple apps normally monetize from advertising, in-app purchases like stickers and games, virtual products, and collaborating with offline businesses and third-party developers. For instance, couple app Between from Korea has struck a partnership with online dining guide OpenRice from Singapore. It’s not hard to imagine Chinese couple apps partnering with couple services like flower delivery apps.

One may think that a generic digital notification devalues the sentiment since it requires the minimum of effort to send. But long distant lovers may find couple apps helpful to stay connected. The need for private apps is always present and it’s up to developers to invent new features that sustain human conditions.