It's a sunny spring day and you're walking down the street in your neighborhood when your phone vibrates suddenly. It's an alert: Your ex is in the vicinity. If you don't change your course, the two of you will bump into each other and ruin the entire day.
You veer a few blocks over. Crisis averted. Thanks, Cloak!
Cloak is a brand new iOS app that uses your existing social networks to pinpoint where your friends are and then tells you where not to go.
"I moved to New York four years ago and somehow in the first six months I lived here, I ran into my ex-girlfriend four times," said Cloak cofounder and CEO Brian Moore. "We didn't live anywhere near each other. It seemed impossible. How could I make this never happen again?"
The answer, obviously, was an "anti-social network"--that's Cloak's tagline. The app works by scraping the locations where your friends have checked in and then mapping them. Push alerts can tell you when a particularly loathsome individual is about to venture onto your turf, or the app can tell you anytime a friend checks in nearby.
It seems counterintuitive: You have to sign up for Instagram or Foursquare, follow "friends" on those networks that you don't like and don't want to see, and then allow Cloak to map their locations for you. But it makes perfect sense, Moore said.
"It's the idea of the 'hate follow' that we've looked into, which is the idea that you follow someone you're not the biggest fan of, but you still want to see what they're up to," Moore explained.
Or maybe you're playing hooky from work and don't want to cross paths with your tattle-tale colleagues.
Cloak debuted on iTunes earlier this week, and so far the lone criticism seems to be its lack of Facebook integration. The world's largest social network does offer up a lot of data about what its users are doing, but Moore said it doesn't top the list when it comes to geolocation information.
"We did a fair amount of research to determine which social networks had the best location data," Moore said. "Foursquare is an obvious one. Instagram ended up being one of the other best ones because of the photo map.
"Facebook is definitely a possibility in the future," he continued. "There are people who use it that do tag locations, but when we did our first round of research, Facebook was a little bit garbled. There's not a lot of people who check into a physical location. They'll post a photo the next day and say where it was, which would give us a false read."
Another social network the Cloak team is itching to integrate with is Tinder. If you meet up with matches that turn out to be a little bit cray, Cloak could help you avoid them in the future. Moore said he's not sure if that's even possible, but he's putting it in the maybe pile.