OPLIN 4Cast #273: Location apps get fancy

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

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.

OPLIN 4Cast #199: Check-in Apps

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

check markDo you have patrons who may be interested in checking in to your library as well as checking out library items? Perhaps you do, but just don’t know it. Check-in apps are getting to be big news. Foursquare may be the best known check-in app, though not the first. Nor will it be the last; Facebook and Google are involved in these apps, too, and who knows how many other companies may soon be jumping in to check-ins. These articles may give you some ideas for using check-in apps at your library.

  • 5 check-in apps to check out (ReadWriteWeb/Richard MacManus) “The excitement started with the location check-in apps: Brightkite, Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude and others. But over the past year the practice of ‘checking in’ has expanded to many other ‘things’ beyond location. You can now check in to TV shows, movies, books, food, events, and more.”
  • 7 ways companies like Foursquare can hold off giants like Facebook (BNet/Erik Sherman) “It’s far too early to say whether Foursquare will overcome or succumb to Facebook. The company may adapt, as apparently 20 percent of its users already push their check-ins through Facebook. However, given that Facebook has created a location logo that looks like a ‘4’ in a square, it may be that the social network giant knows things will be tougher than people might expect.”
  • OneTrueFan: check-in for websites (CrunchBase) “Only six to eight percent of a site’s traffic are ‘regulars’, defined as visiting at least once a week. These readers drive much of the real value on a web site, regularly contributing comments, sharing content with friends and clicking on advertising. OneTrueFan enables web sites to develop deeper engagement with these regular readers, encouraging them to visit and share content even more often.”
  • Foursquare launching new must-have button for websites (ReadWriteWeb/Marshall Kirkpatrick) “If you own a business or publish a web page about any real-world location, this very simple button will allow visitors to your website to add going to your location as a ‘to-do’ item and receive a push-notification to their phones whenever they check-in anywhere nearby. This small button could deliver a substantial part of the promise of Foursquare—tying together our discoveries online with our experiences offline.”

Coming-soon Fact:
Within in the next few months, the Add-to-My-Foursquare button will be added to all OPLIN Dynamic Website Kits.

OPLIN 4Cast #161: Location-based services

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Location-based services are built into to many of our favorite online tools.  For example, with our mobile apps or GPS, we can find nearby restaurants, theaters, gas stations, etc.

The value of shared location data will depend on the quantity of people sharing and the quality of the location-aware updates.  Services such as Twitter, Loopt, Foursquare, Gowalla, Google and potentially Facebook will give everyone the opportunity to share what they know about their location so you can judge for yourself where you want to go next.

With that in mind, libraries will want to consider how this will impact them.  Do you participate?  Do you follow up on comments that were not in your favor?  Do you give incentives for people to visit?

Cool fact:
Location-based software has been used for the greater good in locating disaster survivors, during the Iranian election/debacle and on World Aids Day.

One such open-source product, Ushahidi, is there for disasters. “The Ushahidi engine is there for ‘everyday’ people to let the world know what is happening in their area during a crisis, emergency or other situation.” It brings “awareness, linking those in need to those who can assist, and providing the framework for better visualization of information graphically.”