An App That Makes "Where Are You?" Obsolete

An App That Makes "Where Are You?" Obsolete

Gregory Han
Nov 4, 2011

Last Friday we hosted a most civilized affair at the apartment...a potluck/movie screening with a group of friends who shared our affinity for British programming and an equal fondness for period appropriate desserts. All guests had arrived except one, a more recent acquaintance who had never been to our apartment. And it was this guest who introduced us to an app which we think everyone should have installed on their computer, tablets and smart devices for both its utility for coordinating meetups and the likelyhood it will help keep the habitually late a little more honest when they'll really arrive!

Smartphones have proven to be a bit of a dual-edge sword when it comes to social occasions and meet-ups between friends. On one hand, they're extremely useful for notifying one another when we're running late, need directions, or have to cancel for some reason or another; coordinating amongst various parties has never been more flexible and easier.

But the ability to tell another "we're running late" is admittedly also an invitation for a little fibbing, even amongst friends. How many of us have said "we're on our way" when we're really just getting dressed? Or have used the "we're going to be a little late" message when it's really because we've lost track of time on Facebook? Unfortunately, it's almost an unsaid given this is the social norm these days where the concept of time and place have become amorphous as our lives online and offline.

Back to our party: our friend messaged us he was running late, but with a URL included in his update we had never seen before. When clicking the link, we found ourselves on a website notifying us upon loading we needed Flash to open up the file, but also with an option to download a native app to our WP7 phone which would receive the unique code our friend had sent from his iPhone. A moment later, we used the code to find ourselves tracking our friend on a real-time map on his way to our apartment...and making a wrong turn!

Once sent a Glympse, friends can follow your progress on their computer or smartphone as you make way to the agreed destination...or not.

Glympse is a mobile service that works with GPS-enabled mobile phones (iOS, Android, WP7 and Blackberry), giving users the ability to send or receive a glimpse of their location using a real-time map interface. Anyone with online access on their smart device or via computer browser can receive a Glympse, then track via a unique invitation to the turn-by-turn action. The company has now also added the option to view via Facebook News Feed, tightening integration with existing social networks further.

And don't fret about privacy, this tracking is only good for a limited time specified by the party sending the shared location via Glympse, and can be paused or canceled at any time even within its live period. The fact it works across all the major smartphone operating systems and on any Flash enabled browser makes it a no-brainer download for anyone with a social life...and may even keep predictably late parties a little more honest.

Here's a sample message invite and what the map looked like on my girlfriend's smartphone upon entering the unique tracking code (set to expire 4 hours after).

For groups of friends or coworkers meeting up with limited time together, this could be especially useful in instances when a Glympse could determine whether it's realistic to wait a little longer or begin without them. And in our case, it was thanks to Glympse we could tell our friend he had made a wrong turn and he was able to arrive only shortly after receiving the correct coordinates to potluck central with eagerly awaited desserts in hand.

Glympse is available for absolutely free via Android Market, iTunes App Store, Windows Marketplace and Blackberry App World.

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