BeatTheBushes is an iOS app from Farminers Limited that aims to help people who have found lost things reunite them with their rightful owners. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store.
BeatTheBushes has several modes of operation. The app defaults to a news feed view where recent posts from all over the world are published. It’s possible to view all posts or filter the feed by the four types of posts it is possible to make — People, Pets, Things and Help. By tapping on an individual post, users can get further details on the item and the location in which it has been either lost or found. From the details screen, it’s possible to share the item on Facebook or Twitter and also, depending on the post type, to indicate that a lost item belongs to the user, or that the user has found the lost item. If the user has put their phone number into their profile, it’s possible to call them directly from the lost or found page; if not, it’s possible to send a message to them.
Users may also localize their search for lost and found items on the map view. Here, the locations of lost or found items are displayed graphically, and the user is also able to turn on a “Radar” mode to regularly scan for new items, even if the app is closed. If the player is looking for specific types of item, they may selectively choose which to be notified about, and may also choose a search radius of between 500m and 5km to scan at regular intervals.
When creating a new post, users must select one of the four categories and, in the case of People, Pets and Things, whether they have lost or found an item. The Help category is reserved for people who simply wish to request assistance with something, or offer their services in some way.
Users receive either positive or negative karma according to their behavior on the service, which theoretically should help to root out those who make spurious posts. There’s a bigger issue, however, and that’s the fact that in order for this service to be in any way useful, it needs to have users, and they need to be all over the world. At the time of writing, the most recent post on the news feed was from two weeks ago in New York, and the geographically closest posts to this writer’s location in Chippenham, UK were in Spain and Russia. Consequently, depending on location, the service carries a strong risk of being completely useless.
This is a shame, because the app is an excellent idea — but without users, it will fail. Given the lack of posts on the service at the time of writing, it may already be too late, though a concerted marketing push through appropriate social and media channels will undoubtedly help. The fact that the service is usable via the Web will also be helpful in attracting users without iOS devices — the site features prominent “Available on Android” buttons, but these are greyed out and the app does not appear to be present on Google Play.
Ultimately, BeatTheBushes is of questionable value at present. Were it to pick up a healthy number of active users in a short space of time, it would be an excellent use of mobile technology for mutual benefit; as it stands, however, it’s little more than a good idea seemingly destined for obscurity.