Mobile Service Color Wants To Change Mobile Social Networking

Color is a mobile photo and video sharing app available for iPhone and Android. The startup is well known for being well funded, gathering $41 million so far. You can find the company website at

This is the way the app works: it launches, quickly surveying the people in your surround area; then, you’re allowed to see the photos of those people around you based on your proximity to them, how often you are around them, and how much activity you log on the app.

Another feature is the “elastic network,” which Color determines for you based on your commenting activity and proximity to others. Color makes it so that you will have to invest time in your “elastic network,” meaning if you go on a weekend trip, you could come back having lost everybody in your “elastic network” because you lost communication for a couple of days. This idea of not being able to pick who is in your network is one of the product’s flaws. But it’s primary issue is privacy.

Every photo and video you post is public and the same goes for everybody else. It’s a bit creepy being allowed access to what your neighbor is doing without them having any control over their own visibility (except that they could just not use the app).

The program does have some interesting features, like being able to recall photos from months ago when you walk by the same location you were in when the original photo was taken. But this has potential to backfire. Imagine taking you boss to lunch, and on your phone pops up a night of inebriation you were hoping to forget, there for your boss to see. And the app doesn’t even warn you.

Perhaps the most unnerving feature is that the app not only monitors your location by GPS, but also tracks the lighting and ambient noise of where you are. Of course, not for nefarious purposes; simply, just to get a more accurate sense of where you are. Nonetheless, the potential for abuse is high.

Now that people value privacy more than ever (because it’s becoming more and more scarse) I can’t envisage a future where this app will thrive. I think too many people want some control over their privacy, and Color gives them none.

I don’t know what Color is trying to accomplish. What problem is it trying to solve? The company seems very ambitious and it could be a game-changer, but $41 million seems like a lot to bet on for what they have showed so far. Color demands a lot from its users: it takes a lot of work to maintain and isn’t flexible with privacy. Unfortunately for Color, the reviews from the App Store haven’t been outstanding either. Color has very reputable backers, and it could indeed be the future, but I think it will need to undergo some key changes to move forward.

Found by Daring Fireball, Color founder Bill Nguyen expresses how he sees the company:

“Color is not about photo sharing. It’s a new way to build spontaneous social networks and collect massive amounts of data about what people are doing and where they’re doing it, without collecting any personally identifiable information like last names, addresses, or even passwords.

Maybe I’m missing what color is really about, but I think they will have to make some privacy changes to bring in a substantial user base.

You can download Color from the App Store or Google Play and check it out for yourself.

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