Feeling Antisocial? Try Split, The App That Helps You Avoid People

Mar 26 2014, 9:22pm CDT | by

Feeling Antisocial? Try Split, The App That Helps You Avoid People
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

The premise of location-based social services like Foursquare, Highlight, Social Radar and Tinder is that we’d all be better off if our phones could help us to have more real-world encounters.

But is that necessarily true? There are all sorts of times when the last thing you want is to find yourself face-to-face with certain members of your network. You certainly don’t want to run into your ex when you’re out on a date, or your boss when you’re out shopping at lunchtime, or anyone you know when you’re hungover.

For times like those, it might help to have an app like Split on your phone. Launched today in the U.S. on iOS and Android, it promises to help users “avoid unwanted encounters” by mining the location data in social updates to create a quasi-real time map of problematic persons.

“It’s something that bothers us all the time,” says Split’s creator, Udi Dagan. “It’s time we can just be able to disconnect.”

An Israeli branding agency CEO, Dagan says he hatched the idea after bumping into two different ex-girlfriends in a matter of hours during an evening out. While he can rattle off other use cases, it’s the awkward-meeting-with-an-ex that resonates most strongly, as the product’s name implies. (It could also be what attracted an investment from billionaire Christopher Burch, whose divorce from designer Tory Burch occasioned much contentious legal wrangling. Burch, who was unavailable for comment, is one of a group of investors who put in $1 million in seed money.)

Split uses data from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare to chart the whereabouts of individuals on one’s “Avoid” list. That gives it an advantage over Cloak, an app that claims to offer “Incognito mode for real life,” but which, for right now, only draws from Foursquare and Instagram.

You can scan locations in advance to make sure the coast is clear, see at a glance which venues the undesirables in your life frequent regularly and receive proximity alerts if someone you don’t want to see is approaching. The app will even suggest an escape route.

It might sound a little cynical, but it’s not, insists venture capitalist Hadar Goldman, a Split investor. “It’s nothing to do with being a snob or a misanthrope,” says. Goldman likens the socializing to the bright Israeli sun and Split to SPF lotion. “I don’t want to avoid it — I just want to wear a filter,” he says.

Of less concern than the misanthropes may be the stalkers. Dagan notes that the same features that help users avoid people can also be used to track them. “If you want to know what’s happening with [an ex], or if you want to know who she hangs out with, it’s a thin line,” he says.

But Hadar says he’d expect “perhaps 1%” of Split users would use it for that. “Split is about how to protect yourself from unexpected, unwanted, unneeded surprises.”

Source: Forbes Business


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