This screen would look much cleaner if the font size wasn’t set so high.
When we announced the BBM Hackathon winner for BlackBerryCool was Smarter Apps, we didn’t mention what the app actually was. Well the app was hacked together at the hackathon and will be going live in App World soon. The app is called Who’s Around and the concept is really awesome and simple. The app duplicates the BBM experience but uses the BBM Social APIs on top of location to make BBM location aware. This is just like what Wikitude does for Augmented Reality but instead of needing OS 7 and Augmented Reality, you get a similar experience on a wide range of devices.
Once you have downloaded the app and connected it to BBM (make sure you have BBM 6), you can now set your name, avatar and preferences. Everything about the app is intuitive because it’s made to look just like BBM. The major difference in your profile settings is that you can tell the app what you’re interested in, whether it’s sports, business, investment, dating, drinks, movies etc. You can select from a list of preset preferences or customize it with your own interests. The app will then let you search for other BBM users that have the same interests. This is going to be especially cool when we start to see the overlap with BBM and Twitter and connecting users by hashtags. Are you at a conference with the hashtag “network2011″? Then set that as your profile preference and you can search for others at the conference on BBM.
There are a number of ways this app can be used including:
Hooking up: anyone who has the app at a nightclub will be able to see each other and begin to chat. If you enjoy the chat, you can add each other to BBM.
Networking: The app allows you to network at a conference over BBM and add them to your permanent contact list.
LocalMind or Quora situations: Is someone at a bar and you want to know the vibe? Have they just seen a movie you’re interested in? You could use this app to ask them questions over BBM.
Marketing: If you have a product or service you would like to advertise, you could use this app to search for preferences and message people who may be interested in your company.
The only problem we’ve really experience with Who’s Around so far is that sometimes the cell tower locations throw off the experience. If the app cannot get a GPS location, then it will grab the location of the nearest cell tower, which means someone could be right beside you but the app says they’re 50M away. Also, RIM has made the whole BBM Social experience a little too permissions-heavy. It would be nice if you didn’t have to constantly request everything and you could just message anyone.
In future versions, we’d really love to see integration with BlackBerry or Google Maps so that we could see BBM users in a map view and add from there. Also, in relation to the LocalMind situation above, it would be interesting to see Foursquare and venue integration, so that regardless of what the cell tower or GPS says, I could specify what venue I am currently at.
Stay tuned from Smarter Apps because the company will be releasing this app to App World very shortly.