Useful Networks, a mobile location firm that has been operating in the U.K. and Scandinavia, announced Monday that it has brought its mobile and Facebook-integrated friend finder, Sniff, to the U.S. through the Sprint Network.
Sniff allows users to find friends automatically and in real-time and provides them with exact coordinates to let them know exactly where they are throughout the day. In order to alert its users to their friend's location, Sniff automatically sends a text message to their mobile phone or a note through the company's Facebook application.
Once users ask to follow friends, Sniff requests the friends permission. As soon as confirmation is received and it's determined that both individuals are Sprint customers, Sniff starts providing the user with a detailed map view of their friend's location in real-time. But if friends don't want their locations revealed, they have the option of becoming "invisible" through the Sniff service.
"There is inherent value in allowing your close friends and family to know where you are but only when you want them to," Useful Networks CEO Brian Levin said in a statement. "Friends can now 'sniff' each other out easily and quickly. That is, if they want to be found. You can easily become 'invisible' if you'd rather not be 'sniffed out.'"
The major issue facing Sniff is privacy. Few people really want others to know where they are at all times, and the company claims that it understands that. In order to combat the obvious privacy issues, Levin was quick to point out that all users are given notice and asked for consent. His company also provides multiple confirmation notices to new users reminding them of their current privacy status.
"Privacy is the most important aspect of Sniff," said Levin. "With varying permission levels, Sniff allows consumers to manage if, when, and how their location information is shared with other parties. In addition, users have the ability to set up notifications via SMS of key events, such as being located or invited by another user to be part of the Sniff network."
Registering for Sniff is free, but all users are charged $0.25 "per sniff" from a Sprint device, which are applied to the user's mobile bill. Standard text messaging rates on top of the Sniff's fee charges still apply.