Cloak is the social network designed to help you avoid ‘friends’

Cloak

As social networks become more prominent, integrating into every facet of our lives, we’ve started to outgrow some of the labels the services use. “Friends” is a term used broadly by these networks in situations that we wouldn’t necessarily use it. Co-workers, acquaintances from high school, and friends of friends who we met at a party once and they drunkenly insisted we connect with them make up a healthy chunk of “friends.” And that virtual link makes it easier for those people to approach us in real life, regardless our wishes. Cloak is an app that makes it as easy to avoid them in real life as it is online.

Cloak’s functionality is made possible thanks to the liberal online definition of friendship. Because you, like the rest of us, have at some point made the mistake of adding people you really have no interest in communicating with on networks designed for communication, you now have the information Cloak needs to make sure you never run into those people. It connects with Foursquare and Instagram and pulls location data from your connections to show who’s nearby. Users can flag people they want to avoid and Cloak will provide an alert if that person shows up within a defined radius.

Upon testing, we wondered why it lacks of support for more networks. Facebook seems like the most glaring omission, since that’s the network most people use to manage real-life friendships. Facebook allows users to tag specific locations in their posts, so that seems like a no brainer. (Cloak’s app description does note that Facebook will be added in the future.) Twitter is tougher, and Cloak claims the location data isn’t specific enough to be helpful.  

Beside the limit in the networks it connects with, Cloak only works if your friends are habitual over-sharers. Cloak’s data comes from the location information provided by posts on Instagram and check-ins on Foursquare. We found, as per a suggestion in the Cloak app description, creating a burner account for Instagram and simply following the people you want to avoid is the best way to optimize that particular data.

Interface wise, we quite like what Cloak offers. It’s basically just Google Maps if someone gave it an all-green makeover, but the color scheme conveys the secretive feeling of hiding out from someone. It’s the green you’d see looking through night vision goggles. Even though Cloak was helping us avoid people, we liked seeing those people pop up on the map. To us, it felt like watching blips on our own personal radar. 

For out and about use, Cloak taps into the GPS on your device to track your own location in contrast to those who you’ve marked as people to avoid. You can pick the location radius you’d like to receive alerts in, from a few blocks to a few miles — depending how big of a buffer you’re trying to keep. We didn’t have anyone break our bubble of privacy during our use, but we can see the utility. If a person you’ve been meaning to block is about to rub shoulders with you, it might be good to have some warning.

At the moment, Cloak’s biggest use is preventing you from running into people who check in religiously on Foursquare or snap a constant barrage of Instagram pictures. It’s limited by only including these two networks, but it can provide you with the framework to avoid unwanted interactions. We’ve all had days where we’d just rather not deal with certain people, friends or not, and Cloak seems like it could serve s a successful way of preventing those occurrences. Once it broadens the array of connected networks that it can pull data from, Cloak will be a full blown stealth tool. For now, it’s a decent excuse to not delete those “friends” so you can better avoid them.

(Cloak is free for iOS)

Cars

Uber rolls out rewards program that lets its most loyal riders lock in prices

Uber launched a new loyalty program today called Uber Rewards. It offers frequent riders credits to Uber Eats, car upgrades, and the ability to lock in prices on their most traveled routes.
Social Media

Going incognito: Here's how to appear offline on Facebook

How do you make sure your friends and family can't see if you're on Facebook, even if you are? Here, we'll show you how to turn off your active status on three different platforms, so you can browse Facebook without anyone knowing.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Deals

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Gaming

15 tips for keeping your vault-dwellers alive in ‘Fallout Shelter’

The wasteland can be an unfriendly place, if you don't know what you're doing. Here are 15 tips that will help your vault thrive in Fallout Shelter, including information on questing.
Mobile

Motorola Moto G7: Here’s everything we know

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.
Mobile

T-Mobile's new Revvl 2, Revvl 2 Plus are now available for purchase

Last year, T-Mobile launched its own line of branded smartphones. As a follow-up to their predecessors, the carrier has unveiled the Revvl 2 and Revvl 2 Plus -- complete with a sleeker design. Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

How to take great photos with the Pixel 3, the best camera phone around

You’ve scored yourself a new Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, and you want to take advantage of that incredible camera. We’ve got everything you need to know right here about how to snap the best photos with your Pixel 3.
Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 
Smart Home

Huawei could soon take on Google and Amazon with a new digital assistant

According to a report from CNBC, Huawei is working on a new digital assistant that could try to take on the likes of Google and Amazon's Alexa. Huawei already has a digital assistant in China, but the new one will be aimed at markets…
Mobile

Leak shows a third, budget Google Pixel 3 with a Snapdragon 670, headphone jack

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a third. A budget Pixel 3 device that boasts some of the best features of the other two has been leaked.
Mobile

Use multiple phone numbers on one device with Verizon’s ‘My Numbers’ app

For those who have separate phone numbers and devices for your work and personal lives, Verizon wants to help you get more organized. With its new "My Numbers" app, you can use up to four additional phone numbers on a single smartphone.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…