22 May 2011

Smart phone app Mobli helps ‘see through eyes of a friend’

A new smart phone app is promising to help you “see through the eyes of a friend”. Technology Correspondent Benjamin Cohen looks at Mobli and the rise of “real life” mobile gadgets.

Mobli, the new mobile application that aims to help you “see through the eyes of a friend”, is the latest in a long line of mobile applications tapping into the growing trend for location data.

While once, the internet was a solitary and mostly sedentary experience, thanks to the explosion of smart phones with GPS (global positioning systems) and always-on net access, it’s now becoming an increasingly mobile and social experience.

Services such as the GPS breakthrough dating app, Grindr, have allowed people to get in touch with strangers who happen to be close to where they are right now, whether it be for a friendly chat or more.

Foursquare and Facebook places have allowed us to see where our friends are right now, perfect for both spontaneous socialising but it’s also allowed us to understand them more.

Now Mobli takes it a bit further. The site has been in closed beta for a while and I’ve used it to see what a few of my friends, many thousands of miles apart are doing and seeing right now. It does this by tying images and videos to GPS data.

(Pictured: Benjamin Cohen says goodbye to his virtual fantasy life)

But it also allows you to see how other people saw the same place or event as you. So say you were at a concert, you can see how other Mobli users, maybe from a different angle or perspective.

Like Twitter, you can follow people but you can also follow places, like the Channel 4 Newsroom.

Although I live my life relatively out in the open, I’m a bit wary of sharing exactly where I am right now. Only a very limited number of my friends can see where I check in on Facebook. I rarely use Foursquare. Now I know this is marginally silly given a million people know exactly where I am when I’m live on Channel 4 News, but no one said privacy is simple. So I quite like it that with Mobli, I can chose to upload photos when I get home, sharing the location of where I was rather than “am right now”.

Click here to see: Benjamin Cohen on Mobli

Obviously, Mobli is only going to be a rich experience if a lot of people sign up. For every app like Grindr, there are many more with no one using them.

But, Mobli has signed some big names to start using it shortly, bigger than me anyway. That may help convince people to give it a try. As all media can also be shared on Facebook and Twitter, it is pretty easy to share your Mobli experience with your existing social network.