Ambient apps to help you track (or avoid) people

network web hyperscale social mediaRemember the old days when ‘checking in’ was something you only did in airports or hotels? With the advent of social media, the term now signifies the act of telling the whole world your exact current location. This makes it easier for others to find you or trace your whereabouts.

There are now apps to help you find people near you based on your and their check-ins. Sure, such apps make life easier for stalkers, but they could also be used for the opposite effect – avoiding people.


Using data from various social media platforms, Connect helps you keep track of your friends.  You can use the app to check which of your friends are nearby, chat them up and see if they’re up for hanging out.

Connect also informs you if your friend from out of town is visiting your area, and even lets people know how long you’ll be staying at a particular place just in case some of your friends want to meet up.  Everything is shown on a map view, so it’s easy to see where friends are, or who among them are close by.


Walking into an event can be pretty intimidating, especially when you’re flying solo.  You’re not sure if you know anyone there, but it’d be nice to find out.  SocialRadar helps you see who is in the vicinity, using data from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Instagram, Google+, plus your location data.

The app will tell you who’s inside the event, how you are connected to them, and what they have been up to lately.  Knowing just a bit of information can be a great icebreaker, but knowing too much can make things awkward.  Users have the option to share their SocialRadar information publicly, just with their friends, stay anonymous, or even check out other people undercover.


Some people just aren’t programmed to interact with others, so they try to avoid people at all costs. For the savvy loner,  Cloak is an app that helps you avoid others by showing who’s in your vicinity.  It uses data from Instagram and Foursquare, and you can choose which people to flag or mark so you will be alerted when the person you are trying to avoid is in close proximity.  You can also specify the distance for when you get alerts so you have time to change directions, or think of somewhere else to hang out.

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc