Bump’s Latest App Takes Different Path to Avoid Privacy Backlash

Photograph by Bump

Users can turn off Bump's ability to access their contacts.

The recent controversy over the use of personal address books by iPhone developers boiled up at an awkward time for Bump Technologies, maker of the popular app for swapping contacts by tapping together two phones.

The updated version of Bump, available in Apple’s App Store starting today, prominently features a new tool that shows users what mutual friends they have with someone whose phone they’ve just bumped.

How does it do this? Partly by accessing personal address books.

Wanting to avoid the kind of backlash faced by social app Path last week when it revealed its use of address book data, Bump decided to notify users that it would be uploading their contacts and included an on-off switch for the mutual friend finding feature in its settings. Turning the switch off disables Bump’s access to the address book and deletes any personal information the company had stored on its servers.

Those steps make the program compliant with Apple’s developer guidelines, unlike several other apps that were told by the iPhone maker on Wednesday to “require explicit user approval” for such data collection. Still, rising concern over privacy on mobile devices could turn potential users off to the app’s marquee new feature, intended to be a point of differentiation in a world of thousands of cool new social tools.

“If you poll the average person or look at their behavior, they are going to tend to exchange privacy to minimize work and increase delight,” Jake Mintz, Bump’s co-founder, said in an interview this week. “Most users are willing to make a trade where a trusted entity can access this information if they’re trying to build a better experience.”

The new application, called Bump 3.0, also includes new ways to share photos and a more streamlined homepage. It’s free and available for iPhone and Android today.

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