With big backing from company co-founder Paul Davison’s Benchmark Capital firm along with Michael Arrington's CrunchFund and others, Highlight by Math Camp Inc, is something new and super buzz-worthy in social networking. The app notifies users when friends are nearby – assuming, of course, they have the app running too.
The idea is to keep Highlight running in the background as you go about your business. If, while nearing a café (for example) one of your friends is around the corner, the app makes it easy to hook up and share a latte. Or better still, if you don’t recognize the person beside you at a party and they have the app running, you’re covered. Know someone from Facebook only, but have some shared interests? Highlight can help you connect.
The app requires push notification and GPS enabled and Facebook access with a full list of permissions. Invite your friends, add a bit of info about yourself and then wait until someone you know happens by.
Highlight may have money and buzz, but its usefulness is as blurred as its logo. If you’re a hipster in Silicon Valley, turning the app on might show a bunch of friends and colleagues nearby, but here in Montreal, once the app is set up it just waits in the background hoping that as I move about, someone I know will have it on too. If they do, I’ll be notified with the option to check them out and send them a message, but in 24 hours that’s yet to happen once, and I spent much of that time in the downtown core.
User and critical reviews are mixed, and for the likes of me, Highlight has little value. I’m not sure how comfortable anyone I know would be with giving over this amount of personal information so freely. Also, it will take mass-acceptance to really be useful. But for the tech elite who are backing and using it, it has social advantages and better still, social awkwardness avoidance elements that clearly appeal.