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Google Release Who's Down? - An Eerily Familiar Hangout App

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A lot of tech developers have been playing around with the idea of social media which encourages you to get out into the world. Facebook and other similar platforms have a very retrospective vibe, it's far more about what you have done, or even what you are currently doing than what you're going to do. Various different apps have been developed with an eye towards organising spontaneous social gatherings.

Google now have their own version, it's called 'Who's Down?' and it's all based around declaring what you're planning to do on any given day, putting it out there and seeing who is, indeed, 'down'. It's a good idea, but not a particularly original one, and its emergence disturbs me, somewhat.

The reason for this is, a while back we interviewed Maurice Schill, the head developer of Whoop World, an app with exactly the same purpose. It's actually a lot deeper, enabling users to post pointers on a map to point out interesting landmarks and events, either as meeting places or just something to check out by yourself if you happen to be nearby. It also carries an incentive system which rewards you for using it more frequently and building more connections. Whoop World literally motivates you to go outside and interact.

Then you have Free, another app which is incredibly similar to Who's Down. Once again though, there's more depth, as you can pin your location and tag particularly friends who you think might be interested to make sure they see it first. I'm not saying that Google are rip-off artists, but this to me smacks of a big company clipping the wings of smaller developers purely because of superior reach.

Developers like Maurice have to work very hard on social media and elsewhere to get people on their app, Google have a massive head start. If the technology already existed, and Google had the interest in supporting young developers which they boast of, wouldn't it be better to support already existing apps, especially when they're doing it better? It's at least encouraging that Google have recognised the significance of this trend, but this flag planting mentality is more than a little unsettling.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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Google Release Who's Down? - An Eerily Familiar Hangout App Reviewed by Callum Davies on Tuesday, November 03, 2015 Rating: 5

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