OPLIN 4Cast #273: Location apps get fancy

The “Interactive” portion of this year’s SXSW (South by Southwest) Conference ended yesterday, and as we did last year, this 4cast reports on the current buzz for new interactive software coming out of the Austin Convention Center. The talk this year seems to be about “ambient social location apps.” You might already be familiar with Foursquare, the most mature and widespread location app, and your library may even be a Foursquare venue. (The OPLIN office is.) So what is this “ambient social” stuff? And is it really the next big thing?

  • Ambient awareness, crowdsourced funding, and focused apps at SXSW Interactive (Yahoo! News/AFP Relaxnews)  “Unlike existing Foursquare-styled apps, ambient awareness apps help users discover friends, friends of friends or strangers who share similar interests who are in your vicinity. Highlight and Glancee both use your Facebook profile to help you make social connections and to find friends of friends. Banjo pulls in information from social networks like Twitter and Foursquare and apps like Intro and ntro focus on the business side of networking.”
  • Wallit lets you leave your digital mark in locations, with an augmented reality twist (VentureBeat/Devindra Hardawar)  “Unlike Foursquare, you can actually hold conversations at locations using Wallit. It also differs from location-based chat services like Yobongo and ChatSquare by allowing you to leave lasting messages at specific locations. Wallit’s augmented reality (AR) aspect, accessible by holding your device in a portrait orientation, takes the conversation a step further by having its virtual walls overlayed on top of your phone’s camera feed.”
  • Are location apps really the highlight of SXSW? (The Appside/Paul Smith)  “The number of apps offering ambient location services will explode in the coming months and the functionality pushed by Banjo, Glancee and Highlight will be incorporated into hundreds of competitors desperate to leverage our personal data. Yet nobody wants an app that simply provides more information; they want meaningful information that is focused and relevant.”
  • Ambient social location apps will be consumer duds (ReadWriteWeb/Dan Rowinski)  “There is little doubt that both Highlight and Glancee are going to be popular for people at SXSW and in San Francisco. Maybe even an enclave in Boston, New York and D.C. will pony up to these apps. The mass of consumers are not going to adopt these apps. The closest comparison we have to these ambient location apps is Foursquare that has done well but not terrific in the consumer market.”

Foursquare fact:
According to Ignite data from last year, Foursquare is more popular in Indonesia and Singapore than it is in the United States.

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