Did you know Apple’s App Store website has over 1,000 different apps that are classified as social networking apps? These apps are designed to help users make new friends, keep in contact with loved ones and meet a potential significant other. However, apps that are not intentionally designed for social networking, or include social networking as a secondary purpose, have given their users opportunities to meet people and form relationships. This Two for Tuesday, we are looking at two apps that are surprisingly social.
Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation app that was founded in 2008. Users get real-time traffic updates, access to community-created maps and find the cheapest gas thanks to community-shared gas prices. The more social aspect of Waze came from a 2012 update that allows users to connect with friends on the app, with the goal of making gathering with friends more convenient. Planning to meet a group for dinner? The app has a “Meet Up” option to organize pick-ups, see live updates of the ETA of their friends and share real-time maps with friends who don’t have Waze. Additionally, Waze encourages and rewards user engagement. Top contributors on Waze receive points that contribute to a rank score. As users acquire more points and their rank score goes up, they are given more access to the app in terms of how much they can contribute.
LeftoverSwap was developed in 2013, and it is an environmentally and community-oriented food sharing app. The goal is to give app users an outlet to get rid of food that would otherwise go in the trash. The mission behind the app is to reduce waste and dependence on fossil fuels and fertilizer. Additionally, the creators of the app also highlight the community-building aspect to the app. A secondary goal of LeftoverSwap is to encourage users to eat locally and meet their neighbors, citing that 25% of people do not know the names of their neighbors.
While these two apps do have potential to build community and foster friendships among strangers, both apps rely on the contributions and kindness of strangers; as with any social media app, this can’t always be guaranteed. An immediate concern that comes to mind with regards to Waze is that it increases the risk of cell phone use while driving. Drivers passively update Waze maps by typing in their desired location and leaving the app open, and the features are voice activated, but the app still can be distracting to drivers. Additionally, the app was hacked earlier this year by two students. This caused Waze to report a non-existent traffic jam, which probably did not help the community of drivers the app is supposed to serve. With regards to LeftoverSwap, food sharing may be good for the environment, but it presents health risks. LeftoverSwap does have a Terms of Service agreement and the guidelines encourage users to use common sense when determining whether leftovers are still safe to eat. However, there are no set rules for how the food should be handled, which is cause for concern.
Even so, the possibility of non-traditional social apps is intriguing. The creators of Words with Friends probably didn’t expect that the “random opponent” option would become a way for people to meet. Both Waze and LeftoverSwap function as social platforms in their own unique ways, and maybe in a few years we will hear about people getting married who met by using these apps.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://wpmaster.sjadv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2013/04/Our-Space-The-San-Jose-Group.png[/author_image] [author_info]Jenny is a Junior Executive at SJG. She earned her BA in Psychology and a minor in Educational Studies in 2014 from Colgate University. Outside the office, Jenny loves to travel (usually to Disney World), bake and watch copious amounts of TLC.[/author_info] [/author]