How are location services going to change

May 19, 2010

I have reviewed and written several times about location services, giving you my thoughts and preferences on mobile applications such as foursquare, gowalla, tellmewhere, latitude and others.

Now I would like to try to predict what what it is going to happen to what I think is one of the key avenues for social real time media.

Location as it is now I think it will change. Now you are forced to take your phone, open an application, locate yourself using GSM triangulation and GPS, then check in at a place that should be in the list (or create a new one). Most of the apps are like games: with gowalla you leave and take stuff, with foursquare you become a mayor of a place and earn badges… and tellmewhere has (under my point of view) gotten worse, while it was the one I was betting for.

In the future we should ask ourselves why would you check in in a place. As it is now is more like a trend. Fashion. I would see it useful if you could: get information of the place where you are: menu, promotions, how many people now in, etc…

Also with the right privacy settings, see who is there, and let them know (to those you want) that you are there. This should be done without check in, at least to a close group of friends.

To do it publicly, like it is done now should be done carefully and as it is being done now, baring in mind that it is not that advisable to keep broadcasting your precise location… not safe. Some one could check you are not at home and rob you, for instance. There was a funny site where you could see were people was located so you could go and rob their houses. (It was a funny site sure, not serious).

Continuing with what we would expect from such technology is a tool to broadcast to “your” public (closed group of people) where you are, what are the tips about that place, etc… A tool where you could upload photos, videos, stream, leave tips, comment on the menu, a reward program if you go often, order from your phone products or complementary services or packages, pay,etc… The potential is huge.

This is how I see location based apps in the future. The problem I see is that most of the times venues are in buildings where there is no GPS signal, so no precision in locating people automatically. Also I see the privacy issues a key delicate topic.

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