People have a combination of fascination and fear about location-aware apps. On the one hand, it's kind of cool to be able to look on your phone and see where your friends are. On the other hand, it's a little TMI
, and many have valid concerns about privacy and safety when letting the world know exactly
(within as little as ten meters with Google Latitude
) where you are. The EchoEcho app
is a new implementation of that old idea, with a twist: people have to ask where you are, and you can choose to answer or not.
The developers describe EchoEcho as "an easy way to ask and answer the question 'Where are you?' with a few simple clicks." You can find your friends anywhere in the world and see their locations on a map. The app works on pretty much all mobile smartphone platforms - Android, Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile in addition to the iPhone - so you can share location with your friends even if they have different devices than you. There is push (or "push-like") notification functionality on all platforms, so updates are instantaneous.
The way that it works is "permission-based" sharing, rather than broadcasting of your precise location data at all times. the developers liken it to SMS, rather than something like a Twitter feed which is persistent, constantly available and insecure. You send out a request to your friends to find out where they are, and each friend can choose to respond - or, as the app says, "Echo," in a single tap - with their location.
The developers consciously decided not to create a new social network - layering yet another system of permission and privacy on top of systems like Facebook, LinkedIn, ASW, Facebook, Bebo, Myspace, etc. - but rather to take advantage of the one that every mobile phone user already has: the address book on their phone.
The app is free
, and installation is fast and easy. Especially for a night on the town, where trying to get friends together can be like herding cats, it's a handly little app.
image via EchoEcho