MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Now to a review of a mobile app called Placeme created by the company Alohar Mobile. As long as it's running, the app keeps an automatic log of the places you've visited. But it's different from some other location-based apps.
ALEXIS MADRIGAL: You're basically sharing it only with yourself. It's a private memory bank of all the places that you've gone.
BLOCK: That's Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic, who decided to take the Placeme app for a spin around the block.
MADRIGAL: The idea is that it's sort of perfect memory. You know, if you're like me, you don't necessarily remember where you went three Tuesdays ago. And so, you can track this kind of data to say, like, do you I go to the gym more often than I go to the ice cream shop, or vice versa, right? You are, in fact, making a location log that would be very easy for someone using your phone to look into.
You know, just like all privacy things, maybe it's no big deal. On the other hand, maybe that information ends up somewhere you don't want it to.
I - right now, I'm in my house, which is on the border between Oakland and Berkeley. And I was going to head to a coffee shop and see if Placeme would actually pick me up. Here I go. All right, I'll put on a little bit of the Head and the Heart.
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MADRIGAL: May be a little sun roof, too.
MADRIGAL: Oh, hey. How is it going?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK.
MADRIGAL: Can I get a large ice coffee to go. Thank you.
I was able to take a look at where Placeme automagically deposited my location into a database. And unfortunately, it did not deposit the wonderful coffee shop into the database. Instead, it placed where I parked my car, which just happens to be a random side street.
I think, as a one-time experiment, it kind of shows one the general problems with Placeme, which is just that given the current technological limitations, it takes human intervention to create a perfect record of what it is that you've done with your life. And maybe it's best seen as an aid to what you might want to remember, rather than a replacement for your actual mind.
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BLOCK: That's Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.