Social networks have been evolving and adapting to new technology. With the emergence of smartphones and the integration of GPS technology, social networks have evolved into programs that can add on a new layer to our physical lives.
You can now use these various services to enhance your life and connect with new acquaintances or old friends. You can also explore different aspects of your location that you wouldn’t have uncovered otherwise. Here are five great apps that help you do just that.
Blendr is an app that is available for iPhone or Facebook. It allows you to meet new people based on your physical location. Once you check-in, a list of other Blendr users within close proximity to you will show up on your screen.
Geomium is a service that aggregates events from specific locations and organizes them into one place. It’s a great way to explore what’s going on in your city/town at the moment, and find somewhere to meet new people.
Google Latitude is a location-aware application that allows users to display their current location to friends and contacts.
In order to address the issue of privacy, Google Latitude by default overwrites a user’s previous location with new location data, and no longer keeps logs of locations provided at the service. However, it still has capabilities of recording a user’s information, and can be used to record a history of places visited and time spent at each place. This information can be used to display stats such as “Time at Work” or “Time Spent at Home”. (There’s also the Google Places app that you want to check out)
Facebook has a Location feature which allows you to update your status with your current location. You can also choose to tag the friends you are with at the moment. You can keep your network posted on your physical location, and what you’re up to at the moment. Who knows, you might even run into some friends!
Because friends tagging you may expose your network to somewhere you’d prefer to keep more secretive (tsk!), you may want to keep a close eye on who you allow to tag you. Similarly, you can also choose to remove posts from your profile or Timeline.
Foursquare is arguably the king of all location-based services. It can automatically update your Twitter or Facebook profile whenever you check-in to a location.
Foursquare comes in an app format that you can fit right on your phone. All you need to do is visit a location and activate your Foursquare application to check-in. Once you check-in to a certain location (or to a specific type of location) enough times, you will become a mayor of that location. You may also earn a badge. This added dimension makes Foursquare much more engaging than the previously mentioned location-based apps.
A Word of Caution…
While location-based apps do have a great appeal and merit to them, they also come with some drawbacks. As mentioned briefly, the main obstacle in their way of mainstream adoption is an issue of privacy. People don’t prefer to have everyone knowing when and where they’re checking in. This can also prove to be a security issue: once you check-in somewhere, people know you’re not at home. That makes you all the more vulnerable to possible robbery. (In a worst-case scenario, of course.)
Nonetheless, these services provide a lot of insight into things. Through integration with services like Yelp, you can read friend’s reviews before you go somewhere. You can also meet up with friends on Foursquare/Facebook/Google Latitude, or use these same tools to avoid people you don’t want to see. If you’re prepared to take on the risk, you can also enjoy the enhancement that these apps bring to your life. Enjoy!