After moving to New York, Brian Moore could not stop running into his ex-girlfriend. There were four awkward and unplanned encounters in six months, to be exact.
So while most social apps are about connecting with friends, family or good-looking strangers, Moore began to wonder if a mobile tool could use the same readily available location information to help you avoid certain people.
That’s how he and Chris Baker were inspired to create Cloak, a free iPhone app that pulls in location check-ins from your contacts’ Instagram and Foursquare accounts. It maps out the positions of people you know based on their most recent social posts so you can give them the slip.
Cloak’s tagline is “Incognito mode for real life.” You might say it’s an anti-social network.
Click on a bubble on the map, and you’ll see a person’s name, his or her location and about how long ago he or she checked in there. If it was a while ago, the image will appear faded, like a ghost.
“We feel like we’ve reached the point of social fatigue — too many networks with too much information, all the time,” Baker says. “It’s OK to turn off and pick up a copy of ‘Walden’ and just be alone.”
The app lets people set up push alerts for acquaintances they’d prefer to avoid such as exes, frenemies or annoying co-workers. If someone wants to drop off the grid completely, he can set up these notifications for everyone in his social networks — presumably while sneaking through dark alleys or hiding behind sunglasses and a hat.
The app only works with Foursquare and Instagram for now, so it has limited usefulness if your friends aren’t active on those networks. But the developers hope to add Facebook soon. They say Twitter’s location information is still weak, but they may add that service as well someday.
SOURCE: Heather Kelly