Another day, another location-based app, right? Well, Grafetee (pronounced gră-fə-tee,) is really not the same as something like Saga in that it’s meant to be both a location service as well as a framework to integrate in other location services.
Its exclusive functionality is location-based bookmarks. This allows people to share notes based on their current location, including photos. These bookmarks can be shared privately with other users through an 8-digit alphanumeric code, that allows them to join in and create their own notes. For example, a private directory of restaurants and bars visited could be created and shared between friends. This works without logging in to anything, and photos are shareable between platforms, as the app is on both iOS and Android.
But where Grafetee will be at its most immediately interesting for users is the way that it integrates in third-party services: right now, it uses various APIs to add in Foursquare tips, Yelp listings, Flickr and Instagram photos, Geocaches, and even Wikipedia listings nearby. All of these can be toggled as different visual layers, or displayed in a text list.
This is where the developer of the app hopes its long-term value comes from: being able to add in other services to make it more useful. One creative use is in the developer’s native Finland, they made it possible to let users report information to the police with Grafetee. As explained by Juha Huttennen of Grafetee: “The Finnish police for example, is using Grafetee to crowdsource crime-related data that is not urgent. So they don’t want you to use the app instead of calling 911 but they want you to give out data if you find something that threatens security or if there is a distrubance that you want the police to note and perhaps later act on. Like…if there is a street crossing that is dangerous, or if there is a stop sign that people usually disregard or whatever. They want to collect stuff like this from the public, instead of getting these calls to 911 or direct emails complaining about the same things. It definitely helps them to ease their workload and gives the public a channel.” It was launched nationwide in the past weeks. How did Grafetee get involved with the Finnish police? “I called them.”
One of the other benefits of Grafetee’s approach is that it isn’t necessarily crippled if it grows too big for its britches: controversies over shut-off API access have arisen around Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Instagram with Twitter, for example. With Grafetee providing their own bookmarking service, if Foursquare pulls access, they still have other services, including others that may come into the app’s ecosystem, including ones that may pay to be part of the app if it catches on. Given the potential of its open framework and the fact that a governmental organization is already using it, it’s just a question of further adoption by not just users – but those who may get use out of a location-based app like Grafetee.
I imagine suburbanites wouldn’t get much use out of it, but us metropolitan… -ites (?) could put 16 year-old app aficionado James Shaw’sToilet Finder! to good use. Well, us and anyone visiting our “fair” city. Lots of tourists fail to come up with a Potty Plan when they set out on their walking tours and whatnot.
It’s a common problem when anyone is oot and aboot in unfamiliar territory. Someone has to “go,” and no one knows where the nearest restroom is. It typically leads to one of two scenarios: either the twitchy individual leaves the pack to look for one on their own, which usually takes a lot longer than expected, or they all wander off and waste time that could have been better spent on other things. This is exactly why Toilet Finder! was created.
The app uses the GPS to automatically find and display all known toilets in the immediate area. Conveniently displayed in either map, satellite or hybrid styles. Any crap-tanks in the database will also be accompanied by an address and phone number, just in case it’s late at night or in a weird location. And just to make things even more helpful, the app can provide directions to the desired bathroom.
Sounds useful, no? Toilet Finder! is in the App Store right now for a dollar. Given the amount of time and/or money one could waste while searching for an “outlet” – I’m inclined to think it might be worth it.
I must admit, the existence of Localmind is something I wasn’t even aware of until recently. Now I’m wondering why that is, since it’s a rather ingenious app. Utilizing an iOS device’s GPS in order to let users ask and answer questions about various destinations in their area seems like the kind of thing that’s both ahead of its time and has been a long time coming. It’s odd that it’s taken so long, I know.
So recently Localmind (the developer) released a new update for Localmind (the app) which includes a slew of new things. A number of them are being touted as mostly unnoticeable but still important (i.e. small tweaks and such). However, there are also a trio of specific additions that users have been clamoring for.
First, users can now use photos to answer questions which can provide some (I would imagine) very handy visual aids, such as an honest look at how long a line might be. Second, it’s now possible to answer past questions and those that have already been answered, adding a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) impression. Third, and perhaps most puzzling for a “Top 3 Requested Features” feature, is the ability to turn off the anonymous feature and use a real name and/or portrait. I’m not entirely sure about how essential that last one is, but I can certainly see how the other two options can be handy.
Localmind is the kind of app that can certainly be useful to just about anyone on certain occasions, such as when going to the movies or heading off to the airport. Folks such as myself in major metropolitan areas will no doubt get even more use out of it. Regardless, anyone who leaves the house every now and then would do well to check this out. Especially given the increased usefulness with this update.
Before anyone knew what location aware apps were, before Foursquare, MyTown, and the like were house brands, there was Loopt. Everyone on the planet (maybe a slight exaggeration) had Loopt, but nobody really knew what to do with it. After a few weeks of use, Loopt eventually became a personal stalking app for the willing, allowing you to knowingly let your friends GPS track you as you go about your day. Years later, Loopt has hit 4.0 and is still trying to show its 4+ million users why it is relevant. Now though, it really is pretty neat.
Like before, Loopt works by connecting you to your Loopt friends (who I’d hope are your real friends) by showing you where everyone is on a map. Instead of just tracking people, Loopt is now socially aware, allowing you to not only check in to places, but also invite friends to where you are at. Let’s say that you go to your favorite burger place and want your friend(s) to join. Instead of leaving the app to send some texts, Loopt allows you to punch in a message (called a Ping) that instantly alerts the other users mobile device (allowing them to send a “Pong” with their location and reply).
Working nice with Facebook Places, Loopt is now a fully operational check-in service too. You can’t become the mayor of every place you walk to, but it does have a really cool area that shows you what is going on around town and which places your friends like the best. With the location aware feature, Loopt also tells you when and where rewards are around you that companies may have left for people checking into certain places, just to add something tangible to your check-in experience.
Also nice, and of interest, is the ability to toggle and edit the auto update feature. Instead of just blasting out your location for everyone you know to see, you can choose who sees you and where. If you want everyone still tracking you, you can do that, but if you want certain people to only see you if they are within a certain range, or not at all, you can do that too.
As always, Loopt is a completely free app and can be downloaded right now in the App Store. Getting users to download it years after it was all the rage could be an issue, but the new features just may make it worthy of a second (or third, or fourth) look.
A new expansion pack is now available for The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth. The Desolations of Smaug is available for free and features new campaign maps and bosses for players to strategize against, along with new armor and weapons for them to collect and equip.