Discover Social Discovery Apps (while Losing Your Social Skills)

Everyone off the Foursquare and Pinterest and Instagram and Kony and Linsanity and “Lil B is a good rapper” bandwagons (if you’ve been off the Foursquare bandwagon since 2010, as I suspect, then please let Matt Manarino know so that he can join all of us living in the present day) and everyone on the social discovery apps bandwagon! What’s a ‘social discovery app,’ you ask? Why, it’s a brand new way for you to give up more of your privacy and communication skills in exchange for more connectivity and efficiency, silly.

Social discovery apps have everyone buzzing at this year’s SXSW Interactive, the technology event portion of the broader South by Southwest festival. A polo-clad sea of sweaty nerds staring down at their smartphones filled the SXSW Interactive floor, each nerd desperately trying to search for other nerds with the most similar nerd interests using the newest, nerdiest apps. This year, the newest and nerdiest apps just happen to be social discovery apps, which use the GPS technology in your smartphone to show your proximity to other users that share common friends, interests and university and company affiliations.  Here are 3 of the big ones.



Link Highlight to your Facebook profile, which it will have complete and utter access and control over, and then let the magic happen. Highlight is a passive app that runs in the background and will notify you when you’re in proximity to friends or other users with common connections and interests. According to Highlight, this is how it can help you:


If someone standing near you also has Highlight, their profile will show up on your phone. You can see their name, photos of them, mutual friends, and anything else they have chosen to share. When you meet someone, Highlight helps you see what you have in common with them. And when you forget their name at a party a week later, Highlight can help you remember it.

In other words, Highlight is a killer app. Literally. I propose this new description of Highlight for their website:

Your subway train comes to a stop and you take a swig from your hidden flask to build up some courage. You chloroform the person whose Highlight photos you’ve been obsessing over the entire ride, and then drag their limp body to the dungeon in your basement. Once you’ve chained the person up there, you won’t have to worry about wading through conversation to find out what their likes are since you’ll have already learned about them through Highlight. Furthermore, when you visit their unrecognizable corpse in your basement weeks later, you can address them correctly since Highlight prevents you from committing the faux pas of forgetting names.



Let Glancee cull all of your precious information from Twitter or Facebook, and you’ll be rewarded with a list of other possibly similar users and their approximate distances from you. In each person’s profile, you’ll get to look at their pretty pictures, the compelling interests you guys have in common (and not) and have the ability to add them to your contacts or to chat with them.


Remember the old days when you had to small talk a person every single day of your wretched life just to get to that epiphanic moment where you learn that both of you share an obsessive love for hardcore S&M cosplay? Not anymore. With Glancee, just skip the bull and cut right to the chase with people you have never met or talked to – “Hey, you also love dressing up as Pikachu while being tied down to a gurney and whipped??? Me too!!!”




Banjo uses Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare (damn, now I owe Matt money) and Instagram, among other social media platforms, to show you what’s happening in your vicinity. You’ll get to see the updates, tweets, photos and conversations of the people around you as they trip and fall down steps and into fountains because they’re so busy updating, tweeting, uploading and chatting instead of looking where they’re going in the real world. Banjo is a more active and fuller app than Highlight or Glancee since users have to search for common interests, and are able to browse a map and search different parts of the world for new connections.

Let’s put it like this – ever go through all your friends’ social media content, and then your friends’ friends’ content and felt like you were still hungry for more? If you want to be inundated with even more photos, more words and and more profiles of people who are even further removed from your friend circles and who you care even less about, then tap into Banjo. After all, we’ll never die alone as long as we have people staring back at us on the screen. And as long as that dude that kidnapped us on the subway comes down every once in a while to talk to us about our shared interests.

So what are your favorite social discovery apps?

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