Tag Archives | Location-based services

Serendipity, Guaranteed

Serendipity is wonderful, but it doesn’t happen often. For every enriching coincidence – meeting someone who becomes a lifelong friend or lifelong partner, finding that fantastic hidden restaurant – we miss how many? Dozens, maybe hundreds of other lucky opportunities?

Now several tech startups are trying to increase the odds of connection.

How? By combining intimate knowledge of your comings and goings with understanding of your likes and dislikes – then connecting you with likeminded people and perfect places.

What do they ask in return? For most, an opportunity to push hyper-specific ads or discount offers.

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DOJ Asking to Make iPhone-like Tracking Legal?

At a congressional hearing about complaints over phones storing the location of their users, you certainly wouldn’t expect a government agency to request such activity be made law. But that’s exactly what the Justice Department did Tuesday in Washington, D.C., asking lawmakers to consider such legislation.

The DOJ’s reasoning for it is to be able to track the whereabouts of criminals. Obviously, whether law enforcement wants to do this for sanguine reasons or not, it’s likely to ruffle the feathers of privacy advocates — and probably some in Congress.

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Loopt Does Background Functions on the iPhone. What’s Next?

looptIt’s not full-fledged multitasking, but Loopt will be the first third-party app to send out information even when you’re not actively using it.

The location services program, which tells friends where you are and finds nearby points of interest, has announced an “Always-On” service that continues to update your whereabouts in the background. Here’s the catch: Loopt itself is free, but Always-On will cost an extra $4 per month on your AT&T bill.

Business Insider’s Dan Frommer writes that Loopt struck a deal with AT&T, allowing the iPhone to beam out its location even though Loopt itself is not actually running. As Daring Fireball’s John Gruber writes, this is a server-to-server system, not an app that functions in the background.

The implications of the deal depend on what’s happening behind the scenes. If AT&T is simply providing a workaround for apps that want to send out information in the background, all this means is that other apps — more location services, mostly — could strike similar deals, as long as the app itself doesn’t need to function at the same time.

But let’s just speculate that AT&T has some sway over the iPhone’s inability to multitask. After all, any application that constantly sends and receives information equates to more strain on AT&T’s already inadequate network, so maybe the no backgrounding rule was a way to cut down on traffic. If that’s the case, we might eventually start seeing real multitasking, on the condition that iPhone users pay an additional charge when there’s a data exchange involved.

Given the uproar that would occur if customers started getting nickled and dimed on more monthly charges, I’m inclined to think deals like the one between Loopt and AT&T will be few and far between. But as much as it would irk me, I’d pay a little extra every month to listen to Slacker Radio while playing games or surfing the ‘net.


Let Folks Glympse Your Location

Glympse LogoHow many times in your life have you called someone to tell him or her where you were–or to admit that you had no idea where you were? If your sense of direction is as lousy as mine, the answer is “lots.” Glympse, a free new application for GPS-enabled smartphones launched this week at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose, aims to provide a simpler way to clue people into your location than craning your neck for street signs or local landmarks while you’re on the phone.

Conceptually, Glympse couldn’t be much simpler: The app locates you on a map, then lets you send a message via SMS or e-mail to anyone in your address book, with a brief customizable note from you and a link to an online map showing where the heck you are. You can optionally also mark your destination on the map.

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