Today marks the launch of EchoEcho, yet another app that lets smartphone users keep track of each other. The twist here is that the Google-backed venture believes it has solved many of the privacy concerns that scare people away from geosocial technology.
It works like this: Boy and Girl each have the app on their phone. Boy is looking for Girl in a busy mall. Boy sends girl a ‘where are you?’ text using EchoEcho. Girl can hit reply, which shows Boy where she is on a Google (NSDQ: GOOG) map. Or Girl can disregard the text and ignore Boy altogether.
Nick Bicanic, one of the founders of the LA-based start-up, says the appeal of the app is that it allows people to be found only when they want to be found. He says the app offers additional privacy protection because information is only relayed from phone to phone and is not served on a server like Foursquare. He also says EchoEcho is more useful than such check-in based applications.
“Check-in services don’t tell you where your friends are, they tell you where your friends were,” he says.
Some users — families, say — will want others to know where they are at all times and vice-versa. These users can turn on EchoEcho’s “favorites” function, which permits users to track each other in real time. EchoEcho hasn’t decided yet how it will make money. One possibility is that the company will try to monetize a feature on the app that suggests places to meet. But this sort of scheme would likely compromise user anonymity.
The app, which recently received $750,000 in seed funding from Google Ventures and a UK fund, is available for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), Android, Blackberry and even Nokia (NYSE: NOK) phones.