[image via businessweek]
With the way the web has been going in 2010, as they say in real estate, it’s been “location, location, location.” We’ve already highlighted way more than our fair share of news regarding location-based services like Foursquare (mostly Foursquare), every time noting that 2010 is the year of geolocation. And that isn’t changing. Last week at the SXSW (South by South West) festival/conference/free-for-all, location-based services took center stage, as Foursquare saw a record 350,000 check-ins in one day, and the App Store even featured the most ubiquitous location-sharing services. And in the wake of SXSW, we’ve also learned that a couple of the web’s more popular platforms may be planning to integrate geolocation into their current services,.
For one – TechCrunch alerts us to Facebook‘s potential plans. Recently, someone tipped TechCrunch off to QR codes – little barcodes – Facebook had been testing. On Friday, they learned that the QR codes were apparently part of Facebook’s location plans. As TechCrunch describes them, businesses could print out their custom QR codes, and with an upgraded Facebook app (and their smart phone camera), users who visit the business could “scan” the QR code, thus “checking-in” (or whatever Facebook chooses to call it) at that business.
And TechCrunch raises a good point about the potential impact of such a service – even with Foursquare and other service’s rapidly-increasing popularity, Foursquare still maxes out at about a million users. Facebook has 400 million. SO whether Facebook’s QR codes are meant to be part of a proprietary location-sharing service or not, it could really make the number of individuals sharing their location with “friends” explode.
Another, is potentially an Apple location-sharing service. As Engadget reported on Friday, Apple recently filed for a patent regarding a “social-networking app” called “iGroups” that would allow users to securely share data between them (presumably including their location). And it would allow users without GPS-enabled smart phones to “triangulate their position using the positions of other GPS-enabled devices in the group.” Whether this is indeed Apple’s version of a location-sharing service isn’t 100% clear, but it certainly gets your attention.
Either way, one of the major aspects of this is SECURITY. Rather than sharing your location with the world, with “iGroups” it seems as though you’d only be sharing your location with a defined group of “friends,” significantly reducing the chance that as the folks behind PleaseRobMe.com will tell you, your location-sharing fever might result in you losing some of your worldly possessions. Without getting too deep into something that may or may not ever come to fruition, you can find more details about this “iGroups” at Patently Apple, where the news of the patent filing was originally reported.
And then of course, Yelp has added a check-in feature of its own, and if you haven’t already, be sure to check out Google Latitude – which lets you see your friend’s locations within Google maps (see this post’s title image).
So basically, we’ve seen the new guys on the block make some noise with their “revolutionary” location-sharing apps, but we hadn’t seen too many of the big guns getting in on the action yet. And while Facebook and Apple’s reported plans may not be a foregone conclusion at this point, we at least know they’ve got location-sharing on their radars.