In today's Throwback Thursday, I'm bringing back a group of old Nuggets that are near and dear to my hart: Location Based Services.
One of our more ambitious events here at jWAG was back in August 2010 when we held live video broadcasts several days in a row, we called it "jWAG Live 2". Every day we covered different topics, one of which was Location Based Services (LBS) that were all abuzz that summer.
During the live event, we demonstrated DeHood, Gowalla, Whrrl, Facebook Places, and Foursquare.
DeHood was built as a LBS that would help you keep in touch with the local happenings in your hometown while you were away. I wrote about it here. It seemed like a good idea, but it turned out to be just another smartphone app that people quickly forgot to use. They also made the mistake of populating their database with a very old business directory that tainted their usage right from the beginning.
Although the DeHood app is still available through iTunes, it hasn't been updated since March 2012.
More than all the other location based services, I really enjoyed GoWalla. I was able to create walking or driving tours of my favorite areas in a city. Visitors and tourists could then use these tours to see points of interest. Businesses were allowed to create their own tours with their locations included. My previous write-up on GoWalla is here
GoWalla was eventually bought by Facebook in December 2011. Sadly, none of the cool GoWalla features ever made it into the Facebook system.
Everyone jumped on the location based services concept in early 2010. The Whrrl app allowed you to create a "Society" of other members. Those who checked in using the app would build points of influence. Full details about what Whrrl used to do are found here.
The only influence that Whrrl ever generated was when Groupon decided (perhaps foolishly) that Whrrl was desirable enough to acquire in April 2011. Groupon is still running strong, although you should read this Nugget about Groupon before using it yourself. None of the features where ever actually integrated into Groupon, so it seems like they were either more trouble than Groupon later decided they were worth, or they were acquired to stop the competition that Whrrl never really was to them. Either way, Whrrl spun out.
Facebook rushed in to create their own version of an LBS as all the others quickly rose in popularity. As a check-in only system, Facebook Places didn't last very long. Now it's a built-in part of how the Facebook smartphone app works, in that you are automatically checked in to a location when you select the location from where you are posting your status update.
I started heavily using Foursquare after the demise of GoWalla, and have used it ever since. In June 2014, Foursquare split off its check-in feature to a standalone app called Swarm. It's still unclear why they did this and the company struggles with a specific direction. Yet they are still around and people are still using both Foursquare and Swarm.
It appears that Foursquare built a very viable location database that's used by more than 85,000 other apps. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter all tap into the Foursquare database. Although there have been many rumors about Foursquare being acquired, they are still just rumors.
Foursquare's biggest strength is that users continue to generate content about all the locations. Although I don't think about Foursquare actively, it provides friendly tips via push notification on my smartphone. Oftentimes, I'll see a popup with the top recommendations for a nearby venue. Those popups have saved me several times from ordering the wrong food on a menu, and even to dissuade me from trying a restaurant.
On occasion, Foursquare asks me if I have time to write tips about the venue I'm visiting. I find Foursquare to be an innocuous app that doesn't intrude yet it is convenient and helpful exactly when it needs to be. Isn't that how all technology should be?
It doesn't take much to set up your business account on Foursquare. You probably have an unclaimed listing on it already. If nothing else, the address information in Foursquare will help your location based ranking in Google. You also should make sure your store is properly categorized. The users who originally entered your into Foursquare were allowed to choose the business category for you; I once found a jewelry store categorized as a museum.
Of all the location based services, Foursquare is the only viable one still running strong since 2010. They might lack direction, but their friendly app and usage in thousands of other apps makes them an important part of your online identity.