A new iPhone and Android app called “Color” was just unveiled after receiving $41 million in funding. This photo app could change the way people take and share mobile photos, and is similar to real-time chat service Yobongo where users within the immediate vicinity of one another can automatically find and connect with other users. There is no explicit “friending” or following system – instead, users have public access to any photos taken around them at any given time. Founder Bill Nguyen is calling this an “elastic network” and believes the app will change the way people perceive photo-sharing.
The sharing system makes all photos public all the time and social connections are established depending on two factors. The first is who a user is physically around at any instant and the other is based on the frequency with which users spend time with one another (i.e. friends and family, most likely). Any mobile photos appear in an instant stream of photos and any potential contacts appear in thumbnails in order of the strength of connection with that user.
While Color promises to ban inappropriate content and “requires real-life etiquette and accountability for all actions,” this is still an app that parents should definitely know about. The technology behind Color is very futuristic – in addition to using GPS to determine what users are within a small vicinity of one another, it can also sample audio and light from each participating phone to better determine the proximity of users (kind of like sonar technology according to Nguyen). Parents should be wary of any tracking system like this and while users can block other users, the idea behind the app is an increased sense of community and sharing so the blocking features may not be popularly employed. While Color really could make mobile photo sharing a whole new experience, kids risk not only oversharing themselves but also a lack of privacy and the potential to see photos that may not be age-appropriate. As with any sharing app or online feature, parents should talk to their kids about what they post online – whether through a social networking profile or smartphone apps like this one.
Would you let your kids use a sharing application like this? How do you feel about the “sonar”-type technology?