We are living in a connected world. If you are an average computer user, chance is you have accounts on at least one social networking site. If you own a smartphone, you may also use social apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp or Twitter on your smartphone.
Depending on how you use those services, you may have connections to some, an average amount or a lot of people.
So, Cloak is a new application for iOS that is making the rounds. It is free at the time of writing, and supports Instagram and Foursquare right now.
Its main feature is that it will let you know where friends on those supported networks are, so that you can avoid them. It supports the flagging of people, so that you are only informed about them and not everyone on your contact list.
An anti-social app for the times where you want to be left alone, or want to avoid specific people of your network.
It displays the location of friends on those networks on a map, so that you know where they are, and where you should not go to run into them.
Cloak may work well if all of the people that you do not want to run into use either FourSquare or Instagram. If they do not, it does not really help you at all.
It also won't help you if those contacts have disabled the sending of information to the cloud, or at least information about their current location.
This means that you will only see a subset of contacts on the map at all times.
Even if the developer adds more networks to the app, say Facebook and Twitter, it will remain a subset of all possible contacts and not a complete real-time representation of all of them on the map.
You can still run into them. If they do not have an Internet connection at the time of writing, if their phone went out of battery, if they forgot their phone in office, or if they do not even use any of the supported services.
And even if you use the app, you can still miss a notification that someone is coming nearer. And what do you do if you are eating in a restaurant and notice that someone else approaches it? Pay your bill and get out the back door?
This app should have its appeal to me. I'm an introvert, I do not like to chat about meaningless things, and need alone time to recharge, but even I would not use it even if the app would show all my friends and contacts on the map at all time. But then, I'm probably not the target of that app, as I configure all social accounts to block certain information from being pushed out to the cloud.
Depending on where you live, the chance of running into someone may not be that high. And if you do run into a contact that you do not want to interact with, why not just tell them that you are busy and do not have time to chat.
Do we need anti-social apps to counter the ever growing presence of social networks in our life? I think that many users need to change how they use social networking sites, and how they push out information to the cloud, and that telling people that you need some alone time is often the better option than using an app to avoid running into them in the first place.