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What Is Highlight? Add It to Your List of Mobile Location-Based Services

A New Way to Discover Integrated Social & Location Data


Photo © Math Camp, Inc.

It’s no secret that location-based services are seeing massive growth in use by mobile users and social media enthusiasts from around the world.

Popular location apps like Foursquare, Yelp and the now defunct Gowalla have offered us the opportunity to share our locations with our friends and really make it fun to travel.

The brand new iOS app Highlight has taken location-based interaction to a whole new level and has really gotten some good attention from the tech industry.

What Exactly Is Highlight and What Does It Do?

Highlight is an iOS app that helps you learn more about the people who surround you - not virtually - but physically. Highlight uses GPS tracking to pinpoint which of your friends are standing nearby to your physical location.

To break it down for you, this is an app that combines the information we share on Facebook with the locations we might be used to sharing on Foursquare into a brand new way of information discovery. Social and location data are brought together to help streamline the process for meeting people and even help reduce the anonymity of introductions from friends of other friends.

According to the Highlight app website, the app is supposed to give you somewhat of a “sixth sense about the world around you, showing you hidden connections and making your day more fun.”

How It Works

After downloading the app to your iOS mobile device, the first thing you need to do is connect to Facebook. Yes, Highlight uses your social information from Facebook plus a few personal details you enter manually to get your brand new account up and running.

That’s about all that you really have to do to get it all set up.

When Highlight detects that one of your Facebook friends has moved to a reasonable distance near you, you’ll get a “ping” that notifies you of their location. You may also get pings for people your friends know (mutual friends) on Facebook.

You should be able to view other Highlight users’ names, photos, mutual friends and any other information they so choose to share. The goal of the app is to help you easily see what you have in common with other users.

Controversial or Useful?

Since people initially began experimenting with the app, mixed feelings have been expressed all over the web. Some users have felt it to be a little creepy and much too personal to have their location pinged to all their friends.

On the other hand, the developers of Highlight have obviously stated otherwise and have even provided some good examples of how using Highlight could come to be pretty handy.

For instance, having met a handful of people at a party or networking event, it can be pretty difficult to remember all those connections you just made, let alone their first names. If all those new people you met were Highlight users, your Highlight account would be able to identify the similarities between your social data and feed you sort of a reminder of who those people are, their names and what you share in common.

For social butterflies that make networking a big part of their business or personal lives, Highlight could actually be a pretty big help.

How to Make the Most of Your Highlight Experience

Obviously to get the best experience from Highlight, your friends need to be iOS users. They need to download the app and they need to opt-in to sharing their information. Without other friends using the app, Highlight is kind of useless.

So, encourage your iPhone friends to download it and give it a try. As more people discover the app and decide for themselves that it’s actually useful, your experience with Highlight should definitely improve.

Technical Stuff

As already mentioned, Highlight currently only works with iOS 5 and up. It uses GPS tracking and runs continuously in the background on your iPhone (or iPod Touch).

You may notice that keeping Highlight running may significantly impact your device’s battery life. The developers are working on making an improvement on this, so be on the lookout for Highlight updates from the App Store.

At the moment, you do need a Facebook for Highlight to work for you. As future updates are released, the developers may integrate other platforms for friends to connect and use Highlight.

Get the Highlight app now from iTunes.

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