Highlight snags $4m in new funding, introduces smarter discovery and revamps its Android and iOS apps

Highlight snags $4m in new funding, introduces smarter discovery and revamps its Android and iOS apps ...

Location-based service Highlight has released an update to its mobile apps that brings to life an improved algorithm to help users better understand who is around them. Simply put, the company says that the updates will make the app “smarter, easier on your battery life, and redesigned from head to toe.”

Aesthetically, users will notice that the entire interface has been with greater emphasis on people around you. It has also been flattened, removing any side paneling. Now there are overlays on the screen that display messages and notifications. In addition, in a move that may please some users, Highlight has adjusted its phone icon so that it’s not as hurtful on the eye.


However, the true update to the app rests within its discovery algorithm, which the company says is now smarter than ever. Specifically, it now offers live updates, meaning that through the use of Bluetooth LTE, Highlight can discern what other users are doing near you. By glancing at your phone, the app will display what someone is doing (e.g. walking, biking, driving, or hanging out), where they are, who they’re with, what music they’re listening to, and why they’re relevant to you.

If that sounds a tad bit creepy, company CEO Paul Davison says that most of the information is already provided by the phone. The only thing that is opt-in is telling Highlight what music you’re listening to, and that setting is turned off by default.

This new version of Highlight will also display only those around you with some significant relevancy. It’s one thing to see your friends around the same neighborhood, but it’s another to see your friend in a completely new location by chance. It’s these type of serendipitous-type moments that Davison believes users will find interesting about the update. Highlight has reworked its notification system to be fine-tuned to these “magic moments” to ensure that you’re told at the right time.

One of the last updates to its algorithm is enhancements to the “What’s new?” capability. Akin to meeting a friend after a long hiatus and literally asking “What’s new?”, Highlight will display all of that information to help cut down on the time needed to catch up. If you’re near a friend, the app will display past places they’ve visited, recount the Tweets, Instagram photos, and updates that they’ve made since then.

The above features are available on Highlight’s iOS and Android apps today.

Davison has also shared that his company just closed its series A round of financing, securing $4 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and several existing investors, including Benchmark, CrunchFund, and angel investors. It plans on using the new funds to further invest in the space, which Davison believes is still in its relative infancy, though he says he has been inspired to see Apple enter the market with iBeacon and other location technologies participating.

Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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