There are all sorts of new apps popping up to help users figure out where their friends and friends of friends are hanging out: There’s Foursquare, which is the granddaddy of the Social-Local-Mobile movement. There’s Sonar, which aims to connect users at events and venues. Most recently, I wrote about Highlight, which seeks to create synchronicity among users who share friends and common interests. The latest to enter the market is Glassmap, a YCombinator-backed startup that is like a cross-platform Find My Friends but with more features and better battery management.
Glassmap enables users to log in with one-click access through Facebook, see where their friends are, and get notified when one is nearby. Like Highlight, it doesn’t require explicit checkins to signal where a user is at any given time, instead relying on passive location-sharing technology that tracks users automatically. In that respect, the app is similar to Apple’s Find My Friends service, but it is available across multiple mobile platforms. In addition to the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, Glassmap can be used on Android 2.2+ mobile devices.
One of the key differentiators of Glassmap is its battery management. Unlike Highlight, and even Find My Friends, the team behind the app has developed a passive “Relay” technology that more efficiently maintains battery life. According to founder Geoffrey Woo, typical real-time location apps drain about 5 percent of battery life per hour. Thanks to its secret sauce, Glassmap instead uses about 0.5 percent battery life per hour.
In addition to its real-time location technology, Glassmap provides a layer of messaging, including the ability to “wave” at nearby friends and send them messages to coordinate meetups. That reduces the need to make additional calls or jump in and out of text or other messaging applications. It also provides more granular privacy settings than some of its competitors, allowing users to choose which of their Facebook friends they wish to share their location with, and which they’d like to be notified of.