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MeMap: Trying To Solve The Quandary of Differing Geolocation Services

Posted by Carter Dotson on March 24th, 2011
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

The problem with many communication on the internet often is decentralization. There are two ways to achieve centralization - either form a protocol that is great for universal usage, like email, or be the most popular service; Just ask Diaspora and Laconica what they think of their popularity compared to Facebook and Twitter, for example. Currently, location services seem to be extremely fragmented - you not only have services like Foursquare and Gowalla, but Facebook also offers their own service, Facebook Places, for sharing your location and checking in to places. So, a lot of this data is often spread out to a vareity of places, and a lot of the interesting data doesn't get to the eyeballs of people that it would be useful for. How exactly do you solve a problem like this? MeMap has an idea.

MeMap is an iOS app that is designed to try and connect all these people and services together, in a way. See, MeMap integrates with Facebook Places, considering that Facebook is one of the most used services on the internet, so you have a massive userbase there, and it will be valuable to a good number of users. When you load up the app and connect your Facebook account, you will get an interactive map that shows any geolocation data from your Facebook friends. Now, here's where the connection of disparate networks comes in - if data is shared from a service like Foursquare, Gowalla, or Loopt, it is pinned to your MeMap map.

Now, there's obviously the thought that it actually isn't integrating those other services, but this may be to the advantage of the service - it's just far easier to support just a Facebook login, and doesn't complicate the user experience. The ultimate idea behind MeMap, as according to the founder of MeMap, Matt Farnell, is to make something similar to Twitter, where it's easy to just follow what your friends are doing. “We draw an analogy between our concept in the location sharing space, and the way that people have evolved to use Twitter. The current location sharing networks would be like limiting Twitter to the content creators, excluding anyone preferring to simply follow.” After all, that is the interesting thing about Twitter, and about geolocation services - it's about targeting messages and sharing what you want to share to people who are interested in it. Twitter has made it easy, and MeMap is hoping to step into that space. Their app is available on the App Store right now for free.

Loopt Is Still Plugging Away

Posted by Chris Hall on December 7th, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

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.