If Placeme is any indication, mobile apps are quickly heading in the most invasive of directions. The free software uses every sensor in a smartphone users’ handset to track his or her activities, location and environment. Unlike Foursquare and other location-based services, there’s no checking in or other user action needed to engage with the app. As such, Placeme “may be both the scariest and amazingly futuristic smartphone app I’ve seen yet,” writes GigaOm’s Kevin Tofel.
Built by Alohar Mobile, the service simply records everything in the background. “That creates the fullest set of personalized data I can think of: Placeme is a complete personal tracking solution,” according to Tofel. “Obviously, the scary part is that the app essentially learns everything about you: Where you shop, your route to work, who you visit, etc.” Still, if users can get past the app’s supreme pervasiveness, it could prove very useful to them, Tofel suggests.
According to the app’s makers, it can check one’s route home from work in advance to check for traffic, or perhaps alert them to that fact that another gas station nearby has cheaper gas than the station they just pulled into. The possibilities for usefulness -- and insidiousness -- are pretty much without limit. “Will people be willing to give up privacy for this type of help?” Tofel asks. “Over time,” he thinks so. “Especially with the younger generation that is growing up with smartphones.”