It’s been four months since social-local-mobile* app Highlight issued a major new release, right before SXSW. That update added the ability to, well, highlight interesting people you had crossed paths with.
Now, the app that was all the rage at SXSW (or maybe it wasn’t, you tell me) has used the last several months to learn from its users and issue a new update, which adds new ways for people to interact with each other. Before we get to that, though, it’s worth pointing out that the most important update to the app might be an improvement in performance and battery life — something which plagued earlier users, particularly at SXSW.
Now, about those new features. Highlight’s biggest addition is probably the ability to post a thought or comment to users who are near you. While previously users were able to add a bio, the new feature lets them basically add a status update, which is then sent out as a push notification and appears at the top of their activity stream. Users can publicly reply to those status updates or “like” them, and will get notified when others respond.
Users also gain the ability to post notes on their friends’ profile pages, which is one way of providing more context to others when they show up in someone’s activity feed. The way these notes tend to work, according to Highlight founder Paul Davison, is that they serve as a sort of validation for the user who’s being viewed. Kind of like you’re vouching for them or telling interesting stories about them in virtual space to users who’ve never met them.
You know how the Highlight app lets you see interests that you share in common with other users? Well the new version provides more flexibility around interests — including creating unique pages for them, on which you can see other users who share those interests. While the old app used to just import the interests you’ve specified on Facebook, the new Highlight also makes it easy for users to add interests from directly within the app. It also lets users specify which interests are most important to them, which will help the app provide more relevant results.
With new communication features, the app has a new activity feed and pages for its users. That will provide more flexibility for more types of content to show up — including posts near you and the like — and help users find out more about the users that are nearby. It’s also improved notification settings, giving users more granular control over when they get notified about various different events within the app. Finally, the app has improved localization, adding a number of new languages, including: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
All in all, it’s a pretty huge update, and takes Highlight well beyond just getting notifications whenever a friend or friend of a friend or someone who shares common interests is nearby. At the same time it’s been adding new features, the Highlight team has also been expanding, and now has seven employees — compared to the two who were working on the app around SXSW. It’s probably too early to tell if Highlight will live up to the huge amount of hype it received early on, but it definitely seems like it’ll be a lot more useful with the latest update.