This time last year, Brett Martin took the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York to launch Sonar, a mobile app that connects you to friends and other people nearby, based on your existing social networks. Fast forward to today and the Battlefield runner-up is rolling out a major update to its mobile app that will allow Sonar to finally become the “Here-Now” social network.
The app previously focused on providing relevant information to users about others around them based on connections via Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Twitter. Extremely useful for conferences like Disrupt, when you’re at a party or maybe even starting a new job.
So what’s new? Aside from the usual under the hood tweaks, Sonar has crammed in Status, Sonar Presence, Notifications and Messaging. The status update serves as a hyperlocal broadcast tool for those within close proximity and even pushes out a notification to your friends when they’re close by.
Sonar Presence runs in the background to let others know what you’re up to or when friends are nearby, pushing a notification to alert you to folks you are already connected to. Sonar says one way they’re set apart from other apps in the space is that they’re most interested in showing you real connections and people you actually care about. Like others in the space, battery issues remain because current devices aren’t optimized to use GPS properly. You can pause Sonar in the background, BTW.
Notifications will only ping you when friends you actually know and are connected to are nearby.
Messaging is pretty straight forward and lets you lob chats back and forth with other Sonar users. So if you’re heading into the office and Sonar notifies you that a co-worker is close by, you can send a message asking them to hold the elevator or ask if they need a coffee. Sonar also offers a replacement to the irritating “Where are you guys” texts that are a staple of meeting up at a concert or park. Brilliant, no?
Oh, you think you’ve heard this before, have you? How useful is Highlight outside of the San Francisco tech circle? Because it’s pretty worthless in New York. There are folks working in every industry imaginable, not just tech. The connections that I’ve personally made with folks in fashion, entertainment and countless other industries are innumerable thanks to Sonar. And what about getting results anywhere outside of a tech hub? Sonar says they had users in 35 countries just within a week of their launch last year, and have seen usage in more than 65 countries total. If you don’t see the value in a service like Sonar, then you’re totally missing the point and drinking the kool-aid.
Oddly enough, I’d heard this pitch before but it came at a time before the App Store was even a thing. Back in 2008, Mike declared that he’d seen the “Future Of Social Networking.” He described it as such:
A few years from now we’ll use our mobile devices to help us remember details of people we know, but not well. And it will help us meet new people for dating, business and friendship. Imagine walking into a meeting, classroom, party, bar, subway station, airplane, etc. and seeing profile information about other people in the area, depending on privacy settings. Picture, name, dating status, resume information, etc. The information that is available would be relevant to the setting – quick LinkedIn-type information for a business meeting v. Facebook dating status for a bar.
Given the intimate connection we have with our mobile devices, who wouldn’t want this type of service at our fingertips? It’s not like we don’t immediately Google someone we’ve just met anyway.
Mike never disclosed the name of the company and we never heard from them again. But it doesn’t matter. Sonar does just that and more.
Sonar [App Store]