Glympse, the location-sharing app which first debuted back in 2009, is still hanging in there. The app arrived at a time when its competitors were the original, location-based social networks such as Loopt and Brightkite, now long gone. But Glympse survived – and today, it’s getting a revamp. The company, which has slowly grown its install base to 3 million users, is updating its mobile apps on Android, iPhone and iPad with several new features, including support for groups, calendar integration, and more.
Although the app looks a lot different now than it did back in May 2009, the core functionality has evolved very little over the years. Instead of offering a social network for check-ins, Glympse always believed there was value in the more utilitarian functionality of sharing your location with friends on a more individualized basis. That is, instead of making your location continually public to your social network, you would send a Glympse which would automatically share your current location for a set amount of time, allowing friends or colleagues to track your approach as you head their way for a meetup or a meeting. Put simply, it’s ephemeral, disposable location-sharing.
Today Glympse is hoping to expand adoption with the introduction of new use cases. With Glympse Groups, for example, the idea is to allow a group of users to share their location during common activities, like sporting events, conferences, meetings, or social gatherings. It’s an idea somewhat reminiscent of the location-sharing apps that made the scene at SXSW 2011 – for example, Beluga, GroupMe, and the like. (Beluga and GroupMe have since been acquired, the former by Facebook, the latter by Skype. Other competitors weren’t as fortunate).
Meanwhile, with Glympse’s newly added Calendar integration, the app allows users to automatically send out location updates associated with a particular event, so participants can avoid the “on my way” and “running late” emails, calls and texts.
Also arriving today is a “request a Glympse” feature, which lets current users request that their friends or family send them a response with their location via Glympse. The feature, of course, requires the recipient to download the app to do so, if they have not done so already.
According to CEO Bryan Trussel, the changes were brought on by a combination of user feedback, analytics, and a bit of intuition. “The main thrust in the new version of Glympse was moving from solely one-way sharing – me letting you know where I am – to mutual sharing, which makes it easier to share location two ways or with a specified group,” he explains. “Both of these were possible with the old app, but too cumbersome. For example, now with Request-A-Glympse, it’s two clicks for me to ask where you are, and a single click to respond.”
Trussel says Glympse is primarily used by consumers, but the Calendar integration is aimed at attracting business users to the service, as it streamlines the process of sending a Glympse to meeting participants. “The new feature imports the attendees, the location, and the meeting name and time automatically,” he says. “It went from a 30-second to 3-second effort.”
Glympse raised $7.5 million in June 2011, and more recently announced a partnership which sees its service integrated into the dash of 2013 Mercedes-Benz Series A Class vehicles. Trussel also hints that other partnerships with third-parties are on the way. That’s good news, then, because 3 million users pales in a time when some industry folks are proclaiming 10 million is the new 1 million.
You may have lumped Glympse in the location-based social app bucket, the truth is that the startup’s main competitor is still SMS. “We’re comfortable that in many ways we’re superior now,” says Trussel. But that’s a statement that’s been true of a number of companies which took on SMS with an advanced feature set, but were never able to gain critical mass.
The updated Glympse apps will be rolling out their respective app stores today, or you can download them from here instead.