Combining social networking and real life contact
Social networking sites have created a way to establish and maintain relationships without ever actually having to see each other in person. But this has also created a generational belief that the best way to keep in contact with a friend is through virtual methods. Facebook is a way of sharing what you’ve already done—events you’ve attended, a movie you’ve watched, or where you ate dinner. Consider it the past tense of social networking. Twitter and Foursquare, on the other hand, are the present tenses—what you’re doing and your location at that exact moment. Neither of these options allows in-person interaction with your real-life friends. A new Austin startup has taken it upon itself to be the future tense of social interaction, a way of combining and encouraging social networking and in-person contact.
Forecast for iPhone and Android allows you to share what you’re planning to do that day, whether that’s going to an evening movie or picking up lunch at a local restaurant. You can specify your estimated arrival time so your friends can join you. It’s about planning for your immediate future, as Forecast will only allow you to share what you’re doing if it’s within 24 hours which separates it from event planning sites and apps like Plancast. While Facebook has the option to create an event at a later date, these events are usually added days, weeks, or even months in advance. People may commit to coming, but they often forget or make other plans by the time the event rolls around. Using a 24 hour time limit increases reliability and still maintains spontaneity. And it’s free!
After you’ve added your plans, you can then check in as you go about your day. So, your friends can see if you’re right on schedule or if they need to adjust their own schedules to match yours. With so many people primarily depending on social networking sites to maintain relationships, Forecast has become the middle ground—a solution to the problem of extremes.
Reducing hurdles to impromptu coffee
Currently, there are many check-in apps available, but Forecast believes that these apps cause too many hurdles for your friends who want to join you at lunch or for a cup of coffee. Other check-in apps focus on the immediate. And if you’re friends just happen to be on that side of town with time to spare, that’s great. But by simply planning ahead a few hours, your friends can do the same. This equals more in-person interaction in real life, with the help of a new and innovative social networking tool.
Even with all the many benefits, there are some limitations, as Forecast is still in beta. The first limitation is that you can only forecast a location if it’s within 25 miles of your current location. This means that if you’re planning a trip to the beach or an overnight camping trip in the mountains that are more than 25 miles away, Forecast won’t let you add the location. However, Forecast is looking to make improvements on their system eventually. Also, because it’s in beta, you have to either be invited to join or have an account with Foursquare.
While other major social networking sites are great stand-alone tools, Forecast has taken and combined the best of many of them, creating a unique social experience with a lot of room to grow. As said on Forecast’s website, “Whether you’re going out for coffee or a wild night on the town, Forecast helps you connect with your real friends out in the real world. It’s social networking that’s actually social.”