Echoecho is a location-based mobile application that wants to make it easier for you to locate your friends, family members and colleagues in the real world. Echoecho only tries to get you to answer one straightforward question: Where are you? Unlike other location-based application, echoecho doesn't force you to constantly broadcast your own location. Instead, the application takes the opposite route. Instead of telling people where you are, you ask others where they are. You could use echoecho to check where your children are, for example, or simply to meet up with your friend without having to give a long and complicated description of where exactly they can find you.

Echoecho is compatible with the iPhone (iTunes link), Android, Nokia Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. The service offers apps and push notifications for all of these platforms.

Where Are You?

Nick Bicanic, the CEO of Purpose Wireless, the company behind echoecho, told us that he came up with the idea for echoecho because he was tired of signing up to location-based social networks, just to find that none of his friends were on there anyway. Instead, Bicanic decided to harness the power of the social network that is already build into every phone: the address book. Thanks to this, you don't have to sign up for a new social network if you want to use the service - echoecho simply uses the contacts in your address book.

If your friend has already signed up for echoecho, the program will route your request through its own network and send a push notification to your friend's phone. If the service realizes that your friend hasn't signed up yet, it will send out a text message instead. On Android, for example, the text message will include a link to echoecho's mobile site, which will redirect you to the Android Market.

Once your friend has been located, you will get a notification on your phone, and a map that shows your location in relation to that of your friend will appear in the app.

Permission-Based Location Sharing

One problem that has hindered the widespread adoption of location-based services in the past is the fact that sharing location data with random people is something that a lot of people feel rather uneasy about. Echoecho routes around this problem by using a very nifty permission-based solution. Whenever you request somebody's location, your friend has the option to completely ignore your request. At the same time, if somebody responds to your request, that person will also be able to see your own location. This should help to alleviate some of the social issues that are often associated with location-based social networks.

The next version of the echoecho mobile app will also include an augmented reality view that will allow you to see where exactly your friends are. For now, echoecho only allows you to ping one of your contacts at a time. The echoecho team plans to implement a way to ping groups in future versions of the application.

Getting Started

To get started, you just have to install the application on your phone. You don't have to sign up for yet another social network, though the application will ask you for your phone number. On the iPhone, Echoecho will send you an SMS with a PIN code and once you enter this code into the application, you are good to go. On all the other platforms, you can skip this step.

For Developers: EchoEcho's API

Echoecho also offers a free and open API for developers who want to implement the company's service into their own applications. You can find more info about the API here.