CircleMe, a social discovery app, comes to Android

December 23, 2013

The popular social app CircleMe has come to Android. what began as an iPhone app and service has now made it’s way to Android, bringing its same fresh take on social discovery. Users can tag interests, creating a social presence based on activity rather than interpersonal communication. It’s interesting, and different, but takes a bit of getting used to.

To start, it asks you to like things preemptively, which is a bit of forced attrition. It almost seems like a cheap way of building the service up, but is likely aimed at easing you into the world of CircleMe. If you have interests, you’re more likely to use it, right? Maybe. We haven’t had a lot of success with this one yet.

The aim of CircleMe is to get people with similar interests connected. CircleMe does that in a strange way, and it’s not exactly clear how this app is beneficial. If you “Plant” an activity like photography, which essentially tags your location with the activity you enjoy, people around you can see that someone in the area likes photography. You can comment on the tag, but that’s about it — until you “trust” them, creating a "personal community."

To actually create a meaningful connection, it seems as though you have to find an activity, plant it, then hope people find it so you can trust them -- or vice versa. Circle Me is like a lot of services, but doesn’t seem to do one thing particularly well. It’s social, but not as open as others like the Google+ nearby circle. It looks a lot like Tumblr, but is less clean an interface.

We’re willing to accept we just don’t get CircleMe, but the lack of people we found on the service seems to hint we’re not alone. It's also not a good sign that how the app works -- or why we should care about it -- isn't immediately clear. In the major metro area we tested the app in, the “Plants” were few and far between. It also seemed as though nobody could quite get how to interact, judging by the lack of comments we saw on topics. A reply to a three-star review in the Play Store from the CircleMe team notes the intent is “offering content based only on your specific interests (which you express by 'liking' an item). You can access news feeds related to your passions, discover new potential interests and connect with people sharing the same interests.” So, just like any other social platform, except we don't have to start from scratch.

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