What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that InCrowd is a location-based app with a cute, kid-appealing interface that raises some privacy and safety concerns. The app lets others know where users are and what they're doing via Facebook status updates. Much like Foursquare, the app encourages others to meet up in real life. If Facebook privacy settings limit posts to "friends only" then only Facebook friends will be able to see a user's location, but if posts are visible to "everyone," then strangers could view location postings as well. The app's theme is based on "popularity," so users gain and lose popularity based on how much time they spend using the app as well as how they interact with other users (including "fist bumping" and "drop kicking" other users). The app doesn't appear to have any language filters, so users could potentially see offensive or mature language by reading comments left by others. Another way to gain "energy" within the app, is to purchase it at $.99 a pop, which could add up unless parents limit kids' ability to puchase from iTunes.
Is it any good?
InCrowd is a useful social media tool that hopes to make use of Facebook's new Places functionality, but it faces an uphill climb. Foursquare is the reigning king of the location-based app hill and users of that platform don't have a lot of reason to make a change. On its own merits, though, InCrowd is a different enough take that it will likely find a substantial audience. Its clever use of rewarding players who constantly check in and penalizing people who don't (you lose popularity points if you don't check in at least once per day) makes it a compelling game. Also, users can have fun customizing their avatars. Figuring out how to post your location is incredibly easy and user reviews and comments about those venues can act as a good filter. For example, if you're unsure about a restaurant, you can quickly access the thoughts and experiences of people who have been there -- both friends and strangers (though there are more established ways to do that, as well).
The app has a playful tone, but one that is based on the concept of popularity. Users can help and hurt others' popularity through their actions, which has the potential to cause hurt feelings or get ugly, especially among younger users. Because InCrowd uses Facebook Places, friends who try to hide your InCrowd updates from their Facebook feed won't be able to -- some might consider this spam. Also, the app doesn't have any sort of language or content filter for younger users, which might encourage them to make new friends randomly. As a result, this is one app you'll probably want to keep away from kids. Read more about Common Sense Media's tips for location-based services.