“Bumping into someone” is one of life’s great pleasures. Those little catch ups can make your day. Software developer Proximate Global has created an app called Face2Face that tries to replicate those serendipitous meet ups using mobile location – but with a complete focus on privacy and security. GoMo News spoke to Hameed Khan, CEO of Proximate Global, about the app and how it works.
What is Face2Face?
“Social networking really enriches peoples lives online. You can reconnect with old friends, and keep up to date with your close contacts. We started with the premise that people want to bring that enriched life into their offline world – but without compromising their comfort and privacy. Face2Face uses a proximity approach to that problem. It integrates your friends and business contacts from existing networks, and lets you know when these people are within walking distance. This is really an aggregation app, that collects trusted relationships from your existing networks and lets you know when they’re nearby. Face2Face is not another social network – the entire point of this service is to make life simpler, not to add another network that needs to be managed.”
How do you protect user privacy?
“We have several methods to make sure users are always comfortable and secure. Face2Face approaches privacy and security concerns very seriously – because they’re very different on mobile than they are for on-line. The worst someone can do on FaceBook is read something embarrassing about me. The proximity approach lets us approach this differently:
“The front screen for Face2Face has a control for your privacy level. In seconds, you can become undetectable by anyone. You always have control over whether you’re findable or not.
“You can set your visibility level to “friends” (only people you’ve friended) or “friends of friends” (people who are one connection away from you),
“It only pings people who are within walking distance of you – so no one can see your location if they’re any distance away from you,
“Even if you’ve friended someone, you can’t pick them up unless they’re also a Face2Face user who wants to be found,
“There is a “twitter friends” option, but there are so many connections there that it is set to “off” by default,
“Even when you see someone is close, you can’t ever get their exact location. You just know they’re “near”. You can then contact them by any means you have, including an in-app IM client.”
Presumably you’re marketing this through social networking?
“Yes, as it’s a very social media driven app. Because we have a “cross network social” graph, some of my friends have up to 130,000 “friends of friends” across networks. Because we very often we get introduced to a friend or colleague through someone new, this is a familiar aspect. It can be very useful at conferences or concerts – you can locate someone you share a friend with.”
Where will your revenue come from?
“The way we think of it is that if you’re solving a consumer need in a way that they’re comfortable with, you can really start leveraging location. By guarding peoples security and privacy, we can make them comfortable. The biggest concern most people have when it comes to mobile location is privacy. If we can solve that problem with consumers, then we’ve also solved a problem for location-based marketers.”
Face2Face was launched in July this year, and has had 10,000+ app downloads. Those users are then connected to 3.5 million friends of friends.
It is currently available on iPhone and Blackberry, with an Android app to follow by the end of the month. A Java app suitable for Nokia and Sony Ericsson devices is in development.
What we think?
I have to say, I’m usually pretty skeptical about social services that are location-based, but I like what I see here. There are so many fail-safes at work that I would genuinely feel comfortable using this app. As long as you’re selective about who you friend on social networks, it will never cause you any embarrassment.