Mike at TechCrunch has a good piece on the status of location based services (I like to call them "aware" as oppossed to based! The service necessarily doesn't have to be "based" on where you are....it simply needs to be "aware" of your location to provide the specific service in question.) Anyway, here are some of the key take-aways from the post:
After testing this entire batch, I’ve come to the conclusion that none of them is quite ready to achieve mainstream usage. I believe most, if not all, of the following things must happen before location-based social networking becomes the new “killer app”:
- They need powerful notification systems that actively inform you when someone of interest is nearby. Such a system could be set up manually by individually indicating which friends are “of interest”. But it would be even better for the system to learn from your interactions (messages, pokes, wall posts, etc) and affiliations (profile information, common friends, groups) and automatically identify certain people you’d like to meet up with.
- These applications absolutely need to update your location while the phone is sitting in your pocket. Right now it demands too much from users to open the application whenever they want to inform friends where they are. Serendipitous encounters would be far more common with a fully foolproof and automated location-updating system.
- When inviting friends to a service, you need the ability to determine which of your friends actually have a supported phone. Otherwise you’re just spamming a large number of people who matter to you and with very little yield.
- These apps need to get more stable; they crash way too much.
- We need more hooks into web applications so we can share our location and location-based activities not only with other mobile users but with the web at large.
- Those apps that let you see and meet strangers nearby need to highlight both friends of friends and those who share common interests and affiliations.
- Neither of the big American social networks have added location-aware services yet, but they’re coming. Expect them to eclipse several if not all of these services after learning from them.