The new social app Color had people all abuzz yesterday. The app, which launched on Wednesday with $41 million in funding, shares user pictures with anyone else using the app within about 150 feet.
The product is the brainchild of Lala founder Bill Nguyen, who told Mashable that the point of the app isn’t really to share photos, but to “make small communities.” The app is available for the Android handsets and the iPhone. It’s currently thirtieth most-popular free app on the iTunes store.
Part of Color’s main pitch is that users can share with anyone and everyone. At a concert or a big game, Color users can see the pictures that people in their section are taking of the action. And a small update next week promises to fix a critical problem facing users right now: If you’re the only Color user around, there’s nothing to see.
Nguyen told Mashable that next week’s update will adjust the range based on the density of cities. And if there’s really no one around, the updated app simply won’t launch.
Some people are saying what Color really needs to update, however, are its privacy settings.
Hemanshu Nigam, founder of the online privacy consulting company SSP Blue, said that the app has some pretty serious privacy issues. With Color, you don’t have friends or followers. Instead, the app determines who your friends are based on how often you’re in the same location. That’s a great idea in theory, but it also means that if another user is actively following you around, they can see all of your shared media.
“Say you are at a party and you meet someone,” Nigam said. “Then, the next thing you know, this person you know is understanding your world much better than you ever imagined.”
Color’s meteoric rise makes that possibility a bit alarming.
“I think of this like social media on steroids,” he said. “Generally when a new site or app comes out, there’s an adoption curve that moves at a relatively slow speed. This is moving exponentially, but with that comes exponential growth in privacy and stalking issues as well.”
Users can block other users on Color, but don’t have a clear way to figure out who is actually viewing their media.
Nigam believes the user should always have the choice to decide their own privacy settings and that Color will most likely build in better privacy controls down the line.
His advice to users who just have to try out the app today is to be careful. “If you want to try it out, do it slowly and cautiously,” he said.