Sunday 23 November 2014

Friday Five: Location-based services update their offerings

Location-based services are continuing to develop and emerge into new, more valuable services. With updates happening every few months and new apps launching weekly, this week’s Friday5 will help marketers and users of location-based services understand recent updates. Also, the goal is to help readers gauge where the industry is heading with some innovative offerings that impact traditionally offline behaviors and continue to create multidimensional experiences.

1. Gowalla enhancements
In December, Gowalla updated its service to include faster check-ins, cross-platform sharing and improved in-app photo visibility. According to the company, the “express check-in” uses your past check-ins and current location to guess where you currently are and is accurate around 80 percent of the time. For the other 20 percent, the Gowalla 3 update allows you to correct the check-in quickly with “a couple quick taps.” Last month at SXSW, Gowalla tested its new rewards program and is launching with exclusive partners over the next few months according to Fast Company. Gowalla founder and CEO Josh Williams noted, “Presuming that this all goes well, we’ll be looking to expand.”

2. #4sq3 Foursquare 3
On the Foursquare blog, co-founder Dennis Crowley writes about the evolution of location-based services noting that his team didn’t intend to stop at a “game built on check-ins.” The initial goal was to “make cities easier to use.” With the updates to the platform, users can do just that – discover new places, encourage and motivate users to go to new locations, and promote loyalty to venues. A new explore tab features a search functionality that uses your past check-ins, your network’s activity and other criteria to help you find a new venue or location. The updated leaderboard rewards new activity and scores based on your past seven days’ activity. Lastly, Foursquare revisited the idea of “specials” to include more offers for “swarms, groups of friends, regulars, newbies, Mayors, or simply to everyone.” This gives more options to brands looking to partner with Foursquare on a deal.

3. EveryBlock
While only aggregating news for major U.S. cities right now, EveryBlock considers itself a “geographic filter” for your neighborhood or block. The site notes that “news” in the traditional sense is important, but it’s also important to share news at the hyper-local level. In its About section, EveryBlock uses the example of a restaurant review on Yelp as being “news” if the restaurant in question is in your neighborhood. Traditional news as well as local happenings and events are included in your feed. The possibilities for EveryBlock are extensive. Considering a new neighborhood to dine or even live? This might be a great tool to get a feel for the neighborhood before you move in. EveryBlock integrates Craigslist, police reports, food inspections, the filming of movies and other events that require permit applications.

4. Storytude
Storytude, a Berlin-based website and mobile application, might change the way people read stories and explore cities – now you can do both at the same time. A reader explores the city in which the story takes place, while visiting spots from the story and experiencing first-hand the surroundings that a character describes. Set to launch this month, according to SpringWise, users can “follow along with a variety of fictional stories that use real-life locations as their backdrops.” The first cities available will be Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich and Cologne. WHAI WHAI offers a similar experience to physically explore numerous Italian cities through fictional characters in a game-like setting while you are in the city. As you follow clues throughout the narrative, more clues are sent to you via text message, and you explore new locations within the city.

5. LocalMind
It’s Friday, you are thinking about going to a restaurant, but you want to see whether there is a long wait for a place that doesn’t accept reservations. If only you could ask people there, “How long is the wait?” Soon, you’ll be able to do just that. TheNextWeb says LocalMind is what happens when Quora meets Foursquare. Users can direct questions at users that are already checked-in to a location, and check-ins can be done from any of the standard platforms including Foursquare and Gowalla. Currently, the platforms use text messages to ask questions of LocalMinds, but ideally everything will eventually happen through a mobile application or platform. Other similar location-based platforms for QA are CrownBeacon, Loqly and LOCQL. Keep an eye out for these platforms to launch in the next couple of months. Have you used any of them yet?

Which location-based services are changing the way you think about geolocation?

Image Credit: Chris Owen


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