Have you heard about this "Color" phone app? It's the hot new location-based photo-sharing social network thing that everyone's talking about but nobody really understands. Well, I've figured it out: It's the best way to stalk strangers who are richer, better-looking, and having more fun than you in real-time.
Like other apps, Color, which is available for Android and iPhone, lets you take pictures on your phone and share them with the world. But Color's key innovation is that it bases this sharing not on who you friend or follow, but where you are at any given moment. So, if you're eating in a restaurant in midtown Manhattan, the app shows you a real-time stream of pictures being taken by Color users in or near that same restaurant. (And this means everyone: There are no privacy controls.) As you move around, Color automatically updates the list of people nearby, providing what the company hypes as an "elastic social network"; there's no checking in.
Inexplicably, these people almost always look like they're having a lot more fun than you. Traversing Manhattan this weekend I found that everywhere I went, strangers on Color were doing the same thing as me, only ten times better.
It started when I downloaded Color at Gawker's offices on Friday evening. The first other user to pop up appeared to be in the office a couple floors below. Her pictures showed people laughing and enjoying themselves at a lively office party with wine and delicous snacks. Meanwhile, two coworkers and I were snapping pictures of each other with Color in our own near-empty office while complaining about how stupid and pointless Color was.
On Saturday I opened Color during dinner at a hole-in-the-wall noodle shop in Chinatown and saw some guy named Todd eating in a nicer Chinese restaurant next door. He and his buddies were playing a game of cards—right there on the table! If I had tried to play cards in my restaurant, the waiter probably would have poured hot tea on my head. Later that night, I was at a very nice gathering in the Lower East Side. Or so I thought, until I opened up Color and saw pictures of an extravagant dinner party being held in a stylish apartment nearby.
(While writing this, I saw on Color that someone in my vicinity just took a picture of no less than eleven iPhones stacked on a dining room table. What the hell? I apparently live next to a millionaire who buys new iPhones like they're everything bagels.)
As its founder Bill Nguyen points out, Color should be great at big events like baseball games or protests. Let's say you're too poor to afford anything but nosebleed seats. Color's fancy algorithms will determine the most "interesting" pictures taken by other users in the stadium and automatically display awesome pics from someone richer than you who got tickets right behind the dugout. Or, let's say you're being beaten by riot police at a protest. With Color, you could see an interesting picture of yourself being beaten, only taken by someone who is perched safely on a roof above. This is what Nguyen calls a "multilens" experience!
So, download Color if all this sounds intriguing. Maybe I'll spy on you doing fun things in your beautiful apartment while sulking in the alley below. (Using the app.)