Though it may not seem like it at first, Skout is the first of its kind. Founded in 2007 as a social media application, Skout launched with a new dating platform in 2009, mixing what everyone loves about social media with the new onset of online dating. Available as both a phone application and a website, Skout was one of the first applications to use global positioning systems, or GPS, to allow users to find others near them.
With more and more people turning to technology to meet others, Skout shows app users people that are nearby using GPS. Users can then browse profiles of others, send instant messages or virtual gifts to close-by users using the app. For nominal fees, users can send virtual winks or gifts to others and yes, there is a feature that allows blocking of unwanted gift givers on GooglePlay.
Users can track recent activities and locations of other users as well, which begs the question: is it safe? Unlike most other media outlets that use GPS, a user’s exact location is never revealed nor is their location plotted on a map for others to see. Skout also allows users to opt out of the GPS service if they wish. The app, which hopes to help people expand their social horizons, also separates teens and adults which is out of the norm for apps of this nature. In the teen realm of the app, which is for users ages 13 to 17, there are stricter and more secure rules, creating a safe environment for teens to socialize. For instance, teens cannot connect with anyone closer than 100 miles away and has parental control options, making Skout a safer social media option. The company also has a safety board whose members report suspicious behavior and inappropriate content.
Users who sign up can create a profile with pictures of themselves, and enjoy the use of the instant messenger feature. The premium travel features allow users to meet up with other users while traveling on business or vacation. Another feature called “Shake to Chat” allows users to shake their device and be matched up with other users shaking at the same time. The feature matches simultaneous “shakers” up with each other in a chat, which remains anonymous until 40 seconds into the conversation.
Unlike its competitors, which are either strictly social media or strictly dating sites, there is no formal back and forth necessary. Whether a traveler wants a companion for a drink in the airport, or a park goer is in search of a running partner, Skout helps create quick opportunities for social engagement.
The San Francisco based company hopes to help singles “break the ice” and it seems to be working. Skout created over 500 million connections among people in 180 countries during 2013. This virtual socialization and dating phenomenon appeals mostly to millennials, as most of Skout’s users are in the 25 to 35 year-old age range.
The app, which is available on both iOs and Android operating systems, can be downloaded in the iTunes and Google Play stores.