You may be familiar with the likes of Foursquare and Facebook Places. Heck, you may even be old school and remember good old Gowalla from back in the day. In the simplest form, these location-based social apps use your smartphone’s GPS to enable you to “check in” at different locations around your neighborhood, or around the world.

These platforms have become very popular in part because you can track and connect with friends or family when they utilize the services. But, you have to proactively enter the platform to see where those people are located. Yes, the notifications from Foursquare can be sent to Twitter and Facebook, but again, you have to spend time in the social platform to discover where people are.

Well in 2012, tracking of friends and family has been taken to a whole different level. Enter Glancee, Banjo, and Highlight. Unlike most consumer apps that tend to keep you going back to their destination (i.e. Foursquare) to interact, these apps use push notifications and easy to navigate interfaces to help you quickly gather information on people around you in the hopes of getting you to socialize and communicate offline.

These next generation location-based social apps push the envelope with regards to your location and the people around you. They utilize extended permissions through social platforms like Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and even Instagram to update you on nearby friends and suggest possible connections based on your social graph (shared friends, common interests, etc.). Most of these extended permission apps freak out privacy-cautious people who are afraid to connect to any platform with an email or a social login due to potential consequences of being over-identified, traced, retargeted, tracked or spammed.

But if you can overlook the possible negatives, I’ll share how these three cool apps work and give a quick review of each.

Glancee (Launched May 2011 – Available for iPhone, Android and Facebook) 



How Glancee describes the app: “Remember the feeling of talking to someone new, realizing that you have a dear friend in common and that you both love that artist only you know about? Glancee helps you discover these hidden connections and meet with people important to you.

Explore the profiles of people nearby and be notified when somebody has common friends or mutual interests. Text or call, meet up for a coffee, and stay in touch. Create new, meaningful connections with new people just like you.

Glancee is a fun and safe way to meet new people with common friends and similar interests.”

My quick review of Glancee: Glancee is a nice app that does connect you with new folks, but as my co-worker Ellery pointed out, the interest-matching algorithm has some big buckets. For example: Ellery likes the New England Patriots. I like the Oakland Raiders. Glancee would say we have a common interest of football. Now that may be the case, but I don’t see Ellery and I sitting around the campfire talking about our favorite players. Plus, there is a bit of a creep factor going on in Glancee as you get notified when people actually look at your profile. On the plus side, there are three easy to understand feeds (Matches, News and Inbox) that help you easily organize your interactions and new and old friends.

Banjo (Launched June 2011 – Available for iPhone and Android) 


How Banjo describes the app: “Take Your Social SUPERPOWERS With You

  1. Never Miss a Friend Again! – Banjo alerts you when friends are near, so you never miss the chance to connect.
  2. Global People Watching – See who’s nearby or anywhere in the world, even if they’re not on Banjo.
  3. Social Local Mobile Search – Targeting your interests just got easier. Banjo introduces real time, location based search.

Banjo founder Damien Patton was in the Boston airport waiting for a flight to Vegas. A buddy he hadn’t seen in years was waiting for a different flight just one gate over. Damien tweeted. His friend checked in. Both posted about their locations, yet they missed connecting simply because they were using different social networks.

That’s when Damien got the idea for Banjo.

With Banjo, never miss the chance to connect when it alerts you about friends you didn’t know were nearby. Banjo can take you global people watching to view and learn about people anywhere in the world. Search for people, updates and pictures with your shared interests so you don’t miss out.”

My quick review of Banjo: I love the interface, but like Robert Scoble stated, “Requiring people to check in, instead of just always showing you a new list of who’s near you, is quite different and not nearly as useful or fun…. Banjo is more of an aggregator and shows you people too far away to really be fun or actionable, not to mention it feels much colder and there isn’t the messaging capability (not true) that the two newer apps (Highlight and Glancee) have.” On the plus side, others don’t have to be on Banjo for it to work as it takes geolocation information from the likes of Foursquare, Twitter and even Instagram and pings you when a connection is near (you can set the distance from ¼ mile to 10 miles). I think Banjo is very useful for alerting you when your existing connections are nearby but not as useful for meeting new folks.

Highlight (Launched January 2012 – Available for iPhone) 



How Highlight describes the app: “Highlight helps you learn more about the people around you.

If someone standing near you also has Highlight, their profile will show up on your phone. You can see their name, photos of them, mutual friends, and anything else they have chosen to share. When you meet someone, Highlight helps you see what you have in common with them. And when you forget their name at a party a week later, Highlight helps you remember it.

As you go about your day, Highlight runs quietly in the background, surfacing information about the people around you. If your friends are nearby, it will notify you. If someone interesting crosses your path, it will tell you more about them.

Highlight gives you a sixth sense about the world around you, showing you hidden connections and making your day more fun.”

My Quick Review of Highlight: I love this app! It just runs in the background and surfaces people when you are close to them (about a block or two according to founder Paul Davison). Since it just launched last month and it’s only available for iPhone, there is not a ton of people using it yet. If I worked in some rural town, I’d think this was the lamest app ever built. But since I work in the tech mecca that is San Francisco, I’ve surfaced approximately 50 people since I installed the app a little less than a week ago.  One of those people included Michael Arrington of TechCrunch fame. I’m really excited to use this app when VerticalResponse attends SXSW this month. With more than 16,000 geeks running wild through the streets of Austin, it will be interesting to see what the app Highlight, errrr….highlights.

© 2012 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.