Sunday, March 18, 2012

New App Takes Some Creepiness Out of Location Sharing

closely_app_iphoneThe idea of being tracked in real time and sharing that information constantly with people is more than a little stalkerish and very creepy. A new Android app called Closely is looking to remove the creepy factor from location sharing and tracking. Created by the German company Familonet, Closely is an app designed for small groups to easily keep in contact with each other and share specific location information using a combination of GPS, Wifi, cell tower triangulation and algorithms to determine location.

Unlike most other apps of this nature, Closely integrates with Facebook to allow you to find your friends easily. Once downloaded, you can send invites to contacts to similarly download the app and create a ‘group.’ The app will only shares information with people in your group and only locations you have set as acceptable via geofencing. So it isn’t going to be tracking you every second and will simply send automatic messages to your group when you enter or leave predetermined areas like school, work or a favorite meeting place. The app also allows for chat and pictures to be shared within the group.

“…Closely comes with a slightly different feature setting compared to Familonet (e.g. no alert feature, different design, Facebook integration of check-ins) [and] perfectly meets the needs of children and teenagers who want to stay in touch closely to their best friends or a small group of others,” said CEO & co-founder Hauke Windmüller.

While location sharing in general can be a little creepy, I can definitely see the benefits of this kind of location sharing–if you’re going out with friends or trying to keep track of several roommates or even co workers on a business conference, something like this app would make it a lot simpler to stay in touch. The app is still in beta, and hasn’t received very many reviews on Google Play yet, so we’ll have to see how the general public reacts to this slightly more personal form of location sharing.

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