Hyperconnected hangover: How are SoLoMo apps doing in a post-SXSW world?

sonar _ image

Prior to SXSW, the hype over the dreadfully named SoLoMo apps reached an almost ridiculous high. These location-based social networks were simultaneously sounding our inner privacy alarms while overwhelming us with their intriguing possibilities. As the show neared, the competition grew fierce and names like Highlight, Glancee, and Banjo were cropping up in tech news constantly. 

During the show’s Interactive Week, they were as popular as you would imagine. Of course, the criticism was unavoidable, and you’d hear nearly as many people arguing they were overrated as those who loved them — but either way, they were being used. 

The concern on the tip of all our tongues was “what happens after?” 

At first glance, not much. The SoLoMo madness has considerably died down. So was it all a passing SXSW fad or are they quietly building steam to take our social world by storm?

I’ll be the first to admit that during the show, these apps were fun, interesting, and even useful. They weren’t perfect — immediately upon trying them out, a person can see that while they are impressive (to varying degrees) it’s their potential that’s really incredible. I’m probably considered a SoLoMo optimist compared to other users I’ve talked to. Sure, I’m wary of their security implications (or rather, users ability to take the necessary precautions), but when I see this technology, I see so many ways to use it — it’s exciting. 

Unfortunately, all the SXSW buzz may have come too early. Since the show, these apps have been quiet to incredibly quiet for me. Sure, Portland, Oregon isn’t New York — but it isn’t the midwest either. Yet the last time I got a notification from any of these apps was weeks ago. 

When I spoke with Highlight creator Paul Davison at SXSW, he conceded that while he was happy with all the enthusiasm for his app, he was also worried the setting was going to create a false sense of ubiquity — and that when we all went back home and weren’t able to browse our neighbors and wonder at all the things we had in common (and come on, Interactive week is full of us nerds) it would be disappointing. 

And it kind of has been. And the next big update for any of these apps is still on the horizon. So it’s easy to get a little… uneasy about their future. 

But there are subtle things happening that signal the wheels are still turning — just sort of quietly. For starters, Banjo recently announced it has hit 1 million users. The app integrates Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Foursquare for its location alerts, giving it a wide pool as well as some growing social networks to pull from. Banjo may have pulled away from the pack, but its increasing popularity is good news for its competitors as well. 

More tellingly, outliers are taking cues and creating SoLoMo applications for their specific needs. Intro is a location-based career networking tool, which integrates with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. It helps you find the business connections you need without being pushy. And Salesforce is part of an upcoming product called Serendipity. The app will use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and LinkedIn to create “random” business encounters. “The company’s hope is that only one person realizes the interaction is planned,” says VentureBeat. “while the other person feels like they just had a chance encounter.” Serendipity would use Salesforce’s Opportunities feature which shows deals your company has in the works. Combine these two, and you have a chance-business-meeting machine in the making. Macy’s is also talking about creating its own brand-specific SoLoMo app for marketing purposes. 

So things are happening, and this market won’t be wiped away into oblivion. That said, the originators need to impress us yet again. They had the fortune to get there first, but now the larger tech community is catching on, and apps like Highlight and Glancee need to pull us all back in, get people to download and use the app, and add new features to firm up their platforms and solidify their user base. SoLoMo isn’t over, it’s just starting, and dominating it is surprisingly still up for grabs. 

Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.
Mobile

Turn to these apps to help you in your next hunt for a job

Looking for a job can be a stressful experience, but these days, a simple mobile app can help you to find and apply for jobs all over the country -- here are some of the best job search apps for iOS and Android.
Movies & TV

From premiere date to footage: Here's all we have on 'Game of Thrones' season 8

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Mobile

Keep up-to-date with the best news apps on iPhone and Android

Are the days of traditional newspapers and broadcast news dwindling? With apps this good, maybe. Catch up on the latest headlines on any platform with the best news apps on iOS and Android.
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Windows 10 Mobile is dead: Switch to iOS or Android, Microsoft says

A Microsoft support page detailed the company's plans to end support for Windows 10 Mobile in less than a year. Users with devices powered by the platform are suggested to switch to iOS or Android devices.
Mobile

How to use iOS 12’s Passwords and Accounts tool to autofill passwords

Keeping track of all your passwords and accounts can be a real chore. If you use an iPhone with iOS 12, then you don't have to. Here's how to use iOS 12's own password manager to autofill passwords.
Computing

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!
Mobile

Razer’s Wireless Charger will turn your desk into gamer heaven

The Razer Wireless Charger adds colorful flair to your desk or bedside table. It works with any phone that supports Qi wireless charging -- with some quirks -- but is it worth the high price tag? We take a look.
Gaming

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Wearables

The best Apple Watch bands and straps to stylize your timepiece

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here, we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far. There's something for everyone.
Mobile

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.