Location-based services have proved notoriously tricky. To those who know and don’t fear the worst, there’s an obvious and enormous potential to them. Finding out that friends are only a few streets away when you had no idea they were even in the same city is a wonderful thing to know. You’ve dabbled with Facebook Places, Foursquare and Latitude; now it’s time to give this one a shot.
Sonar: Friends Nearby
Sonar, or Sonar: Friends Nearby to give it its full and explicit name, is a very tidy looking app whether you’re viewing on iOS or Android, and it’s all about bringing your friends closer to you in a very functional sense.
The service leverages the already powerful networks of friends that most people have on Facebook, Twitter and on LinkedIn and Foursquare too. When someone you know checks in with one of these near you, you can see them pop up on your Sonar map.
Every time you open the app, it checks you into Sonar and means that your location is updated. You can also directly message your Sonar friends through the app too. The idea is that you have a thriving map of people around you at any one time. The reality for us, though, was that because most people aren't already on Sonar, we had a pretty sparse experience.
What we had was a pretty blank-ish interface filled with friends of friends which Sonar rather nicely titles Future Friends along with a method of tweeting them including a standard message that runs along the lines of “You don't know me, but my mate Dave...”.
The trouble is that most people don't check in. So, according to our experience with Sonar, most of the time, nobody was around, and that's sad. It's sad because, otherwise, the app is rather good. It's smooth, well presented and, at its heart, is a very good idea. To get the most out of it, though, you really need a good section of your buddies to be using it too.