Google’s New Social Network Called Shoelace Wants To Introduce You To People Who Share Your Interests

Social Networks
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Shoelace Website Screen Capture

After shuttering Google+ in April, Google is taking another stab at social networking. The company is currently testing Shoelace, a Meetup-esque network focused on connecting people with similar hobbies and interests.

Shoelace is a hyperlocal mobile app that promises to “tie” people together based on their interests, like two laces on a shoe. Users can create listings for events and activities (fittingly called “Loops” on the app) they’re participating in, then invite other people to join them. Invitations can be sent to friends or strangers, whether or not they are fellow Shoelace members. Shoelace also generates personalized daily recommendations help users find the most interesting things happening in their area.

When a service relies on knowing users’ locations, safety and privacy are potentially at risk. Google says it is facing these issues head-on by asking each user to join a community, which often requires verification, after installing the app. This ensures users only attend Loops with people they might want to know. Users are expected to abide by Shoelace’s House Rules and community standards any time they are on the app.

Google’s new take on social networking is part of a larger effort by the company to address concerns that technology has a negative impact on mental health. The app is focused on encouraging people to spend less time on their devices and more time enjoying their favorite activities and connecting face-to-face.

Android Police points out that Shoelace bears a resemblance to Schemer, another hyperlocal social network from the California tech giant designed to help people discover and plan events. Google introduced Schemer in 2011. Like Shoelace, it launched with an invite-only onboarding process and used cutesy names for functions that played on the name of the platform. Schemer struggled to find a user base and was shut down two years later.

Google is notoriously unlucky when it comes to social networking. Along with Google+ (launched in 2011, retired in 2019), the company also tried and failed to popularize Google Buzz (launched in 2010, retired in 2011) and Orkut (launched in 2004, retired in 2014). Could Shoelace be the one that finally breaks Google’s losing streak?

Shoelace was built by a small team in Area 120, Google's internal workshop for experimental products. The platform is currently available by invite-only in New York City. You must have an active Google account to sign in. If you’d like an invite code to try Shoelace for yourself, fill out Google’s online request form.