Google is taking another swing at building its own social network. The Mountain View-based tech giant’s in-house incubator, Area 120, is currently piloting a new social network app called Shoelace that’s seemingly designed to “tie people together based on their interests.” At the onset it seems like Shoelace isn’t just another social network, but a Tinder-like app to help spark real-world connections – through activities called ‘Loops.’
There are different ways you can connect and meet people through Shoelace. While the app will allow users to create their own listing for an activity, Shoelace will also automatically surface events that you might be interested in. “Find stuff to do and make plans with others, all in a few taps. Then, invite anyone to join - whether they use Shoelace or not,” the app’s description reads suggesting users will be able to connect with like-minded people, even if they don’t use Shoelace per se – an active Google account seems to be pre-requisite though.
Shoelace is being test-run in New York City for now and it is strictly invite-only, but folks over at Area 120 plan to “bring Shoelace to cities nationwide.” Which is where, the privacy angle (and concerns) comes into the picture.
“We take safety and privacy very seriously at Shoelace. After installing the app, we ask each user to join a community - which often require verification - to ensure you only attend Loops with people you might want to know. We also work hard to make sure that everything you see in Shoelace - from profiles to Loops - is aligned with our House Rules and community standards,” the app description further reads.
This is not the first time that Google is taking a swing at building its own social network – the global search engine giant, in fact, has taken several swings in this regard. But it has failed to usurp the popularity of Facebook – so far. Google+ was perhaps its biggest shot, and it was shut down in April. Google has also done something very similar to what it is doing with Shoelace through Schemer, which was launched in 2011, only to be shut down in 2014.
It would be interesting to see how things pan out for Shoelace. It must be remembered that Shoelace is not so much a Google thing as it is an Area 120 project. Even though Area 120 is a Google entity, it is made of Googlers who are free to experiment with crazier ideas, you’d normally not associate the Alphabet-owned company to have anything to do with. Also, there’s a possibility that Google may never launch Shoelace outside of New York City as well – but all of this is something only time will tell.