Highlight, in case you haven’t heard, is the next Big Thing, according to early adopters who have been using it religiously at SXSW. Although, since the iOS app works in the background of your device, perhaps “using” isn’t the right word. Because unlike other location-based apps, Highlight doesn’t need you to log-in to your location to know who is around. It knows where you are and who is there with you and then offers that information automatically.
On the surface it might sound a little scary, sharing your personal information with total strangers, but Highlight is purely optional. Everything about the app is “opt-in” so it’s not as if anyone is being forced to share what they don’t want to share. Users connect via their existing Facebook profile, so it is sharing information which you have likely already made public any way.
In any case, Highlight is designed for people who WANT to share with strangers; who want to meet people they otherwise might not get a chance to meet and who want to know who else is around who shares their interests. In this way Highlight is head and shoulders above other location-based apps which are pretty much just letting people know where you are or where you’ve been without helping you meet like-minded people while you are there.
Highlight is proving very popular at this year’s SXSW festival where users abound. They are meeting each other, sharing and testing the limits of the new social network in ways which its creator, Highlight CEO Paul Davison, never imagined. So far reaction has been overwhelmingly positive with users saying the new app is helping them make more relevant connections, easier than ever before.
The true test of the new apps success will come as it enters mainstream use; the world outside SXSW where early adopters are the exception, not the rule. If Highlight can be as useful to the average person as it is for those inclined to new technology it might just become as popular as its designers believe it will be.
If you’ve been following the news about SXSW 2012, you’ve surely heard of Highlight, the location-based social network startup that’s all abuzz at the SXSW Interactive conference down in Austin, Texas. LAPTOP Magazine sat down with Paul Davison, CEO of Highlight, to get a walkthrough of the app’s features and the founder’s insights on the direction and uses of the app.
The premise of the Highlight app is straightforward: Essentially, it’s a location-based networking app. That’s nothing new. But what Highlight does differently — which hasn’t been popularized in a big way with apps before it — is it shares your location and profile in real-time, so you can see people you have things in common with while you’re simply walk around a city (or a big convention like SXSW).
It’s a step away from other location-based apps, which used to be focused on users actively checking in at places to let their friends know they’ve been there. In contrast, Highlight does what it says is “passive location monitoring” — that is, the app simply runs in your smartphone’s background and sends you push notifications when you’re within range of another user with whom you have strong Facebook connections. (The app integrates with your Facebook account before you can start using it.) Highlight will pull things from your profile like interests, life history and common friends, and ping you when you have multiple things in common with someone nearby.