Finally, a perfect app for the morning stagger to get coffee on a weekend. If, like us, you worry about running into someone you know and having to make conversation before your caffeine hit, then fear no more.
The app’s name, ‘Cloak’, is instantly appealing to anyone with suspicious leanings and a detective’s imagination. You instantly think of ‘cloak and dagger’, and a very Sherlock Holmes-esque character lurking around the cobblestoned streets. That’s why Melbourne kept the cobblestones, right?
This app will make many detectives extremely pleased. Given that your average Melbourne private investigator is almost guaranteed to be addicted to coffee (all of ours are), running into people you know at your favourite local cafes is always a danger. Yes, these people might be ‘friends’ with you on Facebook or somewhere, but that doesn’t seriously mean you want to speak to them on a freezing Melbourne morning. The fewer people we speak to before coffee, the better for everyone involved. Thankfully our local baristas know our orders and are used to us grunting instead of doing the language thing.
How does it work? Simply, it links into social network sites and gathers information about the locations of the people you are connected to.
While this isn’t useful for an investigator on a case, since it relies on the person updating their location, it’s a great way to add a little undercover fun to a day when you just don’t feel like dealing with people.
When it first came out, Cloak was initially criticised for not linking to Facebook, the most widely used form of social media. However, in the latest version available for download, it assures us that the app gathers information from four major sites – Instagram, Foursquare, Twitter and now, Facebook. This is a definite improvement from the original app, which came out a few months ago. Obviously the developers wisely listened to the recommendations of their anti-social users.
The app initially got a lot of publicity, and some of it was amusing, like Jimmy Fallon’s take on it:
Since most people with smartphones who update their location via social media also have high data limits and GPS automatically on, the app works well for avoiding certain kinds of people. However it won’t save you from the lonely old man who lives next door to the café and spends all this time in the front garden, hoping to nab someone to chat to. It also doesn’t save you from all those people who don’t use social media, like your mother’s friends who have known you since you were ‘just this high’.
But hey, it does have its uses. We all have those friends on Facebook who we actually can’t stand, but are too polite to unfriend. Or who we don’t want to unfriend because when we feel depressed we can stalk their photos, and suddenly feel a lot better about ourselves (or wait, is that just me?). These are always the kind of people who want to talk about EVERYTHING when you run into them.
Or for people who remain friends (at least on Facebook) with their exes, this app could be a useful way to avoid the awkward conversation when you run into an ex having Sunday brunch with their new girlfriend/boyfriend. This may mean you don’t go to your favourite café that morning, but thankfully we live in Melbourne, so there will be one almost as good less than a block away.
Sadly though, the Cloak app is only for iPhone users. (Can’t believe that still happens. Everything is on Android!)
On the other hand, when we googled ‘Cloak app on Android’, we found an app with the same name, but that is designed to encrypt your SMS messages so they can only be viewed by using a password.
Now that’s pretty cool. Our investigator brains can think of a few uses for that… both for maintaining the privacy of our clients, and for less wholesome purposes.
Still, it doesn’t beat the iPhone Cloak app in terms of novelty and potential usefulness. After all – we’re private investigators. We don’t want to have to TALK to people. We just like knowing where they are and what they’re doing. What’s wrong with that?