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Local startup develops high school-centric social networking apps

Wislr, a mobile technology startup based in Palo Alto, has created the first social networking application for use exclusively within high schools. Contrary to Facebook, where anyone can connect to anyone else’s individual profiles, Wislr creates networks that only allows students from the same high school to join. “Facebook use is going down in most areas in the [United States], so we’re trying to make a more closed-off and targeted app for high school students,” Wislr intern and senior Joyce Wen said.

By differentiating between high schools, the app can prominently feature school events and mold to the school’s academic and social scene. “It’s a fun way to talk to people you know,” Wen said. The app has not yet been released to Gunn, but has been informally tested at other Bay Area high schools.

In addition to the main app, the Wislr team is working on a variety of other high school-centric apps, such as “Fess,” a forum where students can post anonymous confessions. Perhaps most promising is the “Gunn Utility App,” which is currently available on the IOS App Store. Many Gunn students have already begun to use it.

The Gunn Utility App functions as a quick-help resource, featuring the bell schedule, a map of the school’s campus and a daily-updated bulletin for announcements and events. Students are also able take scanable photos of their identification cards and store it on the app, which makes borrowing library books, checking out laptops and buying event tickets more convenient. “We built utility features for Gunn students so that the app would have an immediate positive effect from the day the app was downloaded,” Wislr IOS developer and Fusion Academy junior Ash Bhat said. Currently, the app receives most use from students’ personally posted statuses.

Additionally, Gunn students can individually post statuses onto a school feed. The feed is similar in format to Twitter which, according to Wen, was partly the inspiration for the startup’s name. “On Twitter, you tweet,” Wen said. “On Wislr, you whistle.”

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