How To Meet New Friends (Or Reconnect With Old Ones) Using Highlight

Highlight failed to impress at this years SXSW, but only because the app is not built to thrive in that environment, it’s built for meeting new people and is still the future.

Highlight is a location-based social discovery app, currently only available on iPhone through the app store. Most technology enthusiasts see Highlight as the marquee ambient social networking app for the iPhone. However, outside the tech community people are slow to warm up to it because of its intrinsic privacy flaws.

The way the app works, your profile is made public to smartphone users around you. You can change the settings to where only “friends of friends” can view your profile, but you’re still putting your location out there to everyone, whether you want them to see you or not. Unfortunately, unlike other similar apps, you can’t have it so that only your friends can know of your location.

People unhappy with the app believe it is heavily overhyped. This criticism comes mainly from people who live outside of Silicon Valley or New York (or Austin during SXSW), which are two of the only area that can sustain Highlight in its most functional form. I live in Miami, a fairly large city, and few and far between are the people I encounter using the app. However, on a trip to New York recently, I noticed a completely different landscape with countless users all around.

At SXSW, people didn’t find the app all to useful. This was mainly because people forgot what the app is primarily used for: meeting new people. Even though most people go to SXSW to network, the festival has so many events that there is little point to using Highlight when there are so many parties/events around with like people congregate; you don’t need the app here. But, outside of a heavily social event like SXSW the app is great, assuming your live in a densely populated city. Just take a fifteen minute walk in downtown manhattan and Highlight will open you up to countless opportunities to meet interesting people. When I move to New York in May, I’m  sure I will be using Highlight to meet new people.

Some find Highlight to drain the battery life, but this is common with any other background running apps. It is an issue, but not exclusively Highlight’s issue. Another problem lies in connecting you to people who really do share similarities with you. Sometimes Highlight will take one interest and run with it. There needs to be more in common to spark interest rather than just the fact that someone else besides me likes Family Guy. I  think most people like Family Guy.

It’s a exciting time for ambient social networking and Highlight. Don’t let the SXSW snag break your enthusiasm for the app. If Highlight can handle its privacy issue and fix some other minor problems, theres no reason why its popularity really can’t explode. We’re all a little frightened about letting technology track us, but I’m sure photo sharing at it’s inception was also a little bizarre. I like Highlight and hope to use it more in the future.


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