The dubiously hot social app Color had most of Techcrunch abuzz this week. The app, which launched on Wednesday with $41 million in funding, shares user pictures with anyone else using the app within about 150 feet.
The Chinese, not to outdone, have created a reasonable duplicate with some interesting added features:
- The app can project a mural patched together onto a building or a wall as long as the image is not bigger than the Tiananmen representation of Chairman Mao
- The app has a uniform recognition program that can auto-delete any security personnel that might appear in the photo and can rearrange troublesome characters. One beta showing of the product turned a poster of Disney’s Princess Jasmine into the Monkey King. There are 100’s of programmable templates available.
The clone is the brainchild of an IT developer who owns Wangfujin’s McDonald’s franchise. Ronald , as he asked to be called, said , “I was sick of people just hanging around the shop with cameras and getting dragged off. Now, everyone can watch CCTV styled app action in public without a TV! The point of the app isn’t really to share photos, but to “make communities.” A special Peking University version is available and will allow you to tag people in cafeteria lines that grouse about gruel prices so they can be added to such groups until they agree the school meals are a bargain at any price. It’s currently the thirtieth most-popular free app on the government recommended list at the Chinese iTunes store.
Part of Colour’s main pitch is that users can share with anyone and everyone, but won’t be held liable for content. At a walkathon or a big tea party, Colour users can see sanitized pictures that people in their section are taking of the action. It’s instant harmony! And a small update next week planned for Color promises to fix a critical problem facing users right now, but won’t be needed in the Chinese version: If you’re the only Colour user around, there’s still nothing really to see!
Ronald told me that the part of next week’s update that will be used will also adjust the range based on the media density in cities: If there are journalists around, the updated app simply won’t launch.
Some people are saying what Colour really needs to update, however, are its privacy settings.
He Xia, founder of on online privacy consulting blog, said that the app has some pretty serious privacy issues. With Colour, you’ll never have old friends or followers again. Instead, the app determines who your new friends “should be” in the same location. That’s a great idea in theory, but it also means that if another user is getting actively followed he may have more friends than he bargained on. Mr. He has been unavailable for further comment since talking to us.
“Say you are at a party meeting and you meet someone,” He said. “Then, the next thing you know, this person you have been told to know is understanding your world much better than you ever imagined.”
Colour’s meteoric rise makes that possibility a bit alarming.
“I think of this like Cisco on steroids,” he said. “Generally when a new site or app comes out, there’s an adoption curve that moves at a relatively slow speed. This is moving exponentially, but with that comes exponential growth in privacy and stalking issues as well.”
Users can block other users on Colour, but will never have a clear way to figure out who is actually viewing their media.
His final advice to users who just have to try out the app today is to be careful. “If you want to try it out, do it slowly and cautiously,” he said.
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