Highlight is a location-based social-networking app that allows you to discover when your Facebook friends, friends of friends and people with similar interests are near you. As exciting as the concept is, though, we can't help but find serious flaws with its privacy settings.
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Social networking is taken to the extreme with the new Highlight app. Highlight is a location-based social-networking app that notifies you when your Facebook friends, friends of friends and people sharing similar interests are nearby (as long as they're Highlight users, too). Using GPS technology and Facebook on your iPhone, Highlight collects and shares data such as personal interests automatically with other users. Highlight is undoubtedly the breakout app from SXSW 2012 in Austin, Texas, as predicted by tech writer Robert Scoble in his blog “Scobleizer" back in January.
The Highlight app links to your Facebook account and accesses your device's location features. When another Highlighter sharing similar interests is nearby, Highlight will notify you and produce the person's profile within the app's activity log. The idea is that the app will run in the background while you go about your everyday business until someone interesting comes along.
Scenarios are endless with this app. Say you are walking to your favorite deli to grab some lunch and Highlight tells you that your pal is within the vicinity. You decide to meet up and chow down on some turkey subs together. You could also use it to steer clear of unwanted visitors. Let the spontaneous meet-ups (and round-about avoidances) begin!
The app gives you the ability to “highlight” someone. By highlighting someone, it shows that the person is interesting without having to talk to or message them. The app displays who you have highlighted as well as who has highlighted you. (Sound like a popularity contest?) When you highlight someone, that person is notified and added to a list on the highlighter’s profile. It’s like human bookmarking.
Highlight's other notable feature is that it shows what you and a fellow Highlighter have in common, including Facebook friends and likes. You can also message those that are near you, similar to Facebook Messenger. A Highlight profile that others will see includes a short description about yourself, personal photos and your Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition to these features, if you tap on Highlight's map, you can see exactly where people of interest are and at what time you last were in close vicinity (Highlight keeps track of past interactions, too). If you don’t want to be seen, you can pause Highlight, which turns off the Highlight capabilities completely until you decide to un-pause it.
Other than the pausing feature, we can't help but find Highlight a bit creepy and fairly frightening as far as privacy concerns go. The privacy settings allow you to choose to make your Highlight profile visible to “Everyone” or to “Friends of friends only.” We would like to see the ability to narrow your options further to friends, family or customizable groups only.
We see great potential in this social-networking app, but we would also like to see some additional privacy features including a customizable profile and greater filters that let you select who can view your personal profile. It’s hard to see mass amounts of people wanting to give up their personal information so freely.
Reviewed: Mar 13, 2012 | Kelsey TrabueAlso featured on: Mobile App Standouts at SXSW 2012
This app is included in a scenario called 4 Ambient Social Location Apps for Finding People Around You