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  • Sharing Your Location (Voluntarily) With EchoEcho


    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
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Sharing Your Location (Voluntarily) With EchoEcho started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. confucious's Avatar
      confucious -
      So isn't this just like HayWAY ( Hey! Where Are You)?
    1. lolcats1's Avatar
      lolcats1 -
      i don't know man. who's to say an iphone virus doesn't decide to tap into this app's servers. this is a little too much Big Brother for me.
    1. edaw33's Avatar
      edaw33 -
      I am with Confucious. This is the exact same thing as HEYWAY which i have been using for about a year now. HEYWAY even has a free version.
    1. ~Steve Jobs~'s Avatar
      ~Steve Jobs~ -
      heyway......
    1. carlos916's Avatar
      carlos916 -
      aye wey wey!
    1. nickecho's Avatar
      nickecho -
      or rather one of them.

      Thanks for the review.

      Nice to see the app getting some traction (readwriteweb did an interview yesterday so that should be coming out soon)

      As to the comments about heyway - heyway's got some interesting ideas.
      But I encourage everyone to try echoecho and compare.

      Aside from the fact that we run on iphone, android, blackberry, nokia S60 and windows mobile - and have an open API that's designed to be integrated into other services...fundamentally I think that our app is far easier to configure and use (the way permissions are handled is clearly a UI/UX issue and needs to be treated carefully as such). But it's not up to me to decide that overall - it's up to you guys.

      I welcome the competition from other services that give more privacy control to the user - so long as that privacy control does not come with sacrificing ease of use...at the end of the day if it's not super easy to use - people just won't use it...

      Nick
    1. sarahkillah's Avatar
      sarahkillah -
      I just tried installing echoecho and it was easier than heyway, the design is nicer. It's one step to just sent out an invitation for someone to try it out which is good - I'll try it for a week, see how my friends respond.

      Ok first notable difference - I can invite my Blackberry friends (and Nokia?). That's an improvement.
    1. adsonjustin's Avatar
      adsonjustin -
      interesting...
    1. i9charm's Avatar
      i9charm -
      Why don't you just call and ask where they are?
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      i like this idea much better than google lattitude. non intrusive way to accomplish the same goal. havnt tried yet but will.

      @~Steve Jobs~
      like your graf. that yours?
    1. iLaw-One's Avatar
      iLaw-One -
      Sorry...count me out of this!
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      downloaded. didn't like so much [allthough very quick and intuative] i think if i had all of my friends using the same system, it would be great. [only a few of my friends have smart phones] *ugh* getting them on board is a task. Heyway was really cool looking. havnt downloaded but its GUI looks very sleek. again though, getting my friends on board to download. and if its compatible w/ their phones or not [like echo] is the question?
    1. mike1114's Avatar
      mike1114 -
      How is this any different than loopt also?

      I love this idea but hate the manual interface of having to ping my friends, and they ping back.

      Why can't it just be permission based location? Like once I say yes, let this person know where I am at all times, they can. But not everyone else. You could also have a public option that would let everyone know where you are if you want.

      I wish Mologogo worked on iphone, it uses map points and twitter also to post feeds of where you are and what your doing.

      Much better than this.
    1. nickecho's Avatar
      nickecho -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike1114 View Post
      How is this any different than loopt also?
      ok I'll bite

      (a) Loopt doesn't have an open API
      (b) Loopt doesn't take less than 60 seconds to configure (because you need a profile
      (c) Loopt is yet another service that relies on location check-ins for its primary functionality

      That's for starters.

      Look at the end of the day - there is going to be some similarity in any location shared functionality - because at the end of the day conceptually we are dealing with location.

      But the idea of having to request someone else's location as opposed to broadcasting yours to people who "follow" you in some way or other is a subtle but vital difference.

      Say you're going to a business meeting - are you going to tell the person you are meeting that you want them to install foursquare or loopt so they can see where you've eaten (oh and as it happens your location)

      All these services live or die by the simplicity of their setup and actual usage. We've taken pains to streamline the service to a very high degree - so we optimise the user's ability to ask/answer the question "Where are you?"

      If you (as a user) want to solve a different problem...or are simply searching for a service that requires you to check in with your location once - then echoecho is not currently your type of service.

      As to your point about allowing automatic response - yes good idea - it's already in the roadmap....In the short term future we do plan to offer a so-called Auto-Echo which allows you to configure certain friends that will automatically be responded to but we want to be extremely careful with how this functionality is implemented.

      There is an ongoing battle here between simplicity/ease-of-use - and privacy consideraton. Clearly it is easy for a programmer to put in settings that say stuff like

      Should I see this person on map Y/N
      Can this person see me on map Y/N
      What is the granularity of location that this person can see (COUNTRY/CITY/STREET)

      and so and so on - for each contact in your address book but from a software design point of view this is moronic. If only 15 hardcore phone phreaks use the software then what's the point.

      The idea behind echoecho is for it to be as easy and as ubiquitous as SMS - so absolutely everyone can use it. We have friends using it to find friends/parties, parents using it to check in with their kids, a couple of users check in with their significant other to see if they've arrived home safely...not so easy to do that unless the application is super easy to use.

      I appreciate all you guys writing in - we try to read all the posts as we can follow. We mostly try to collect data in our getsatisfaction.com/echoechome area - but so long as I get notification from modmyi.com I can do it here also.

      Nick