Location Social Networking… Circle App Review

I’ve always been a fan of location based social networking. If I’m looking for a place to eat and I have 3 or 4 friends nearby, I’ll ask them to come along or for their recommendations.

I have hundreds of friends on Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter that are always blowing up my feed with check-ins, but there’s not central location I can go to find people close-by. In fact, it’s a royal pain trying to find out if anyone is close by without going through everyone’s profile one-by-one… Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.

Foursquare “kind of” does it, but the interface isn’t very user-friendly or navigable. And it’s network isn’t near as big as Facebook’s.

Facebook came out with “Find Nearby Friends”, but that was scrapped due to Facebook’s poor privacy settings. Basically, if you had a “public” profile and you checked-in, anyone could find you with the app. This is technically true with public profile check-in’s anyway, but centralizing millions of people’s location information available to the public can cause quite a privacy nightmare. Especially when many of those “public” users are children/minors.

I’m pretty sure Google+ has a centralized “nearby” location feature based on Latitude, but no one uses Google+, so there’s that.

Enter Circle App for iPhone and Android platforms.

Circle connects to your Facebook profile and will consolidate all of your Facebook friends check-ins and location-aware status updates.  After it combs through the data, it sorts your friends by how far they were away from you.  This feature is great!  I’m at the Atlanta airport right now and found 4 friends in the Atlanta area.  If I was staying the night, I’d message them and ask for their sushi or Mexican recommendations.

App Pros:

  • It connects to Facebook.  Just about everybody is on Facebook, so that’s a huge chuck of my social network.
  • It organizes contacts by who’s closest. I’ve been looking for this feature for a LONG time!
  • It actually is a social network in itself… Not sure I should put this as a pro though, because we already have enough of these! 🙂
  • The interface is really sleek, easy to use, and natural.  It’s not hard to figure out where everything is at all.
  • I love how they “de-emphasize” maps…as in they aren’t existent…. I don’t care what street address my friends are at.  I just want to know if they’re close and if they’re somewhere cool I may want to be!
  • You can “bypass” or “ignore” the integrated social network by remaining in “offline” mode and only interacting with your contacts/Facebook friends.  You’re by no means forced to use their network.
  • I’m a sucker for any app with augmented reality.  They do a good job of AR with distance circles that each contact falls into.  It’s pretty neat.

App Cons:

  • It doesn’t give any more detail than the city/town of your contacts.  So, I know I have 4 friends near me in Atlanta, but I don’t know where exactly they are.  If they recently checked-in at Terminal E of ATL, I’d love for Circle to tell me the details and not just the city. If they can’t do that, maybe a “xyz miles away” feature would be cool.  
  • Facebook is the only network it connects to.  I’d love to see Foursquare, Waze, Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Google+ integration.
  • There’s a way to see who’s viewed your profile, like LinkedIn.  I’ve never been a fan of being able to see who’s viewing your profile or who’s profile you’ve been viewing.  I like anonymously browsing.  Hence my anti-CISPA support.
  • From the look of some of the “profiles” of the app’s current user-base, it looks like this may be a creepy/awkward dating app…. That’s part of the of Circle having it’s own social network I don’t like.  The more techy, network-focused people that start to utilize this app, the less of a chance you would have being bothered by people looking for dates.
  • The pulsating green dot when you’re in “networking” mode is a bit annoying.  Maybe a different color, like blue would be better… And probably make the app function a little quicker (not that it needs it).

Overall, this is a great app that helps show you all of your Facebook friends that are close by.  The design and flow are outstanding.  Functionally, it  could use a bit more refinement.  I think it’s relatively new, so it’s future is up in the air.  I, for one, hope this turns out to be my social location app of choice.


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Responses to “Location Social Networking… Circle App Review”

  1. Horrid UI, laggy network response, crashes to desktop all the time… and I’m on a Nexus 4 on wifi. I’m pretty sure the way it spams your Facebook friends list is against Facebook policy, too.

    No thanks.

    • It seemed better on the iPhone than android…. but yeah, the network integration seemed a bit buggy… Let’s just say I haven’t used it since the review! 🙂