“Malapit na ako.” Three words that often mean different things to different people. To the one waiting, it’s a sign of hope. To the one who’s running late, it’s a way to buy more time. To the Glympse user, it’s a precise set of data about location, direction, and speed. No more guessing whether “Malapit na ako” translates to 10 minutes or 30 minutes of waiting time.
I held off on installing Glympse (available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7 & 8, and Blackberry platforms), because the principle sounded creepy: give someone else your location data and let them see exactly where you are. Why would I want to do that?
Well, it turned out that there are many situations when Glympse comes in handy. Like when you are meeting up as a group, and each one is coming from a different place. You can get a clear picture of where everyone else is, and let the person who’s going to arrive first be the one to reserve the table. When you are traveling in a convoy, you can keep track of where all the other cars are even without visual confirmations. When husband and wife want to do separate shopping errands, and keep track of where the other spouse is (“He’s at the Rolex store again???”). You get the idea.
The implementation isn’t as creepy as it originally sounded to me. You get to set the amount of time that the other person (or persons) have access to your location data (from 15 minutes to 4 hours). You can send your location data to someone, or request location data from someone. You start by choosing the people to whom you are sending your data (they get a link via SMS), set the time you want to share you location, append a message to the link (“Sorry, stuck in traffic at Ayala”), and then send out the data. On the Glympse app, you can see who is “following” you (or viewing your data).
When a Glympse recipient gets the SMS or email and taps on the link, his browser will open to a page with a map and your location on it as a bright yellow-orange dot. It will also show them your “trail” as you move along, together with your current speed, to give them an idea of how fast you’re going and how long it will take you to get to the destination. You can set up a group for several people to join, so that all of you can be seen on the same map. Your Glympse recipients can track you on their mobile phone’s browser, or on the Glympse app itself, or on a browser in a desktop or laptop or tablet.
And Glympse can also improve marriages. A friend told me that after he installed Glympse on his and his wife’s phones, he finally understood how differently men and women interpreted “malapit na ako”. When he used to get that response from his wife, he interpreted it as her being just a couple of blocks away; after using Glympse, he realized that the same phrase meant she was actually much farther than that, and he learned to be more patient.
Glympse might not be a daily app for me, but it’s one that’s earned a spot on my home screen, and which I recommend to nearly every friend I know who uses a smartphone.
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