|Cloak pinpoints the location of social contacts so they can be avoided|
There have been countless location-based smartphone apps down the years showing where your social networking contacts are, usually with the theory that you’ll want to meet up with them.
What if the opposite is true? That’s the idea behind a new “antisocial network” app called Cloak, which launched for Apple’s iPhone this week.
Initially, it uses data from Foursquare and Instagram to pinpoint the location of your contacts based on their latest check-ins and photographs, plotting them on a map that also shows your current location.
“Cloak scrapes Instagram and Foursquare to let you know where all your friends, ‘friends’ and non-friends are at all times so you never have to run into that special someone,” explains its App Store listing.
Supporting those two social networks makes Cloak of limited value for now, given that the two largest services – Facebook and Twitter – aren’t included. Cloak says it’s adding more social networks in the future, although it seems Twitter may not be one of them.
“Why isn’t Twitter included as a service?!?! Well, the location data just isn’t there,” explains the listing. “Most users have it turned off and even when it’s on, it’s quite vague.”
Early reviewers on the App Store aren’t impressed, with Cloak currently earning a two-star rating. “What no fb or twitter, waste of time then,” suggests one disgruntled downloader. “Nice idea... but no use unless it includes Facebook and twitter,” claims another.
For its part, Cloak, co-founded by former BuzzFeed exec Chris Baker, sees itself as part of a wider backlash against the big social networks.
“Things like Twitter and Facebook are packed elevators where we’re all crammed in together,” he to the Washington Post. “I think anti-social stuff is on the rise. You’ll be seeing more and more of these types of projects.”
Baker has form in this area: he previously launched browser extension Unbaby me, which replaces photos of babies posted by Facebook friends with “awesome stuff” including cats and bacon, before expanding it into a service called Rather that helped Facebook users block a range of keyword-based topics.
What will they come up with next, is there really a need for this app? Do we really need an app to help us avoid people?