Monday, April 22, 2013

List of Location-Based Services

Every few months, I update my list of location-based services (LBS). This update is the most extensive since I started the list!

I've changed the categorization to reflect the growing use of locative technology into more areas of our life,  such as healthcare and art.  I've also expanded the history section of the list, based on my research as I previously blogged about.

This update has 30 additions. Six apps on my prior list went out of business  - that's the most I've noticed. I'm not surprised, as the market is over saturated, poorly differentiated, and not necessarily financially viable. Despite this, many new LBS apps continue to launch or attract attention, such as Findery, Red Bull Playgrounds, Endomondo, Field Trip, Sitegeist, and Grafetee.

The list is categorized based on the application's leading purpose. However, many apps have overlapping locative functionalities. Descriptions focus only on an app's locative elements. Passage in quotation marks are taken from that app website.

  • Flickr - upload, share, and search for georeferenced photos (also ZoneTag from Yahoo appears to facilitate this)
  • Instagram -  upload and share georeferencing photos (view Instagram photos on a map via Instamap)
Coordination, Communication, and Safety
  • 112Iceland - shares users’ position with emergency response teams should one become lost or stranded while exploring Iceland
  • Crowdmap - open-source hosted solution for location-specific crowdsourced info for activism, crises, or community projects
  • Glympse - share location with contacts and specify visit duration 
  • Groundcrew - "coordinates on-the-ground action with your people. Use location, availability, and skills to mobilize in realtime."
  • Guardly - personal emergency system, alerts authorities and close contacts with user’s location in an emergency (similar is
  • Swim Guide - find nearby beaches, their safety status, and historical info
  • YWCA Safety Siren - sends geolocation to emergency contacts, maps and directions to women's health clinics & resources, etc.
Commerce and Marketing
  • DinoDeals - proximal alerts of deals (by Geoloqi)
  • Grafetee - service provider for locative marketing & customer relations (e.g. mapping special events)
  • Groupon Now - proximity based deals 
  • MapDing- hyperlocal classifieds
  • Placecast - service provider for brands to create geolocative mobile apps
  • Priority Moments - proximity-based promotions & deals (only in London, UK)
  • - allows a user to search and receive info and pix on properties for sale in their vicinity or across Canada. Also offers proximity-based new listings and open houses (similar ones include Rightmove and Lovely)
  • Shopkick - proximal promotions and customer loyalty programs
  • Shopcatch - location-based deals (Canadian company)
  • Sociallight - service provider of geolocative apps
  • Where - proximity-based promotions and deals, by PayPal
  • YellowPages - uses location to identify and search for nearby businesses
Geosocial Networking
  • Banjo - geosocial discovery - helps you find friends and people with similar interests near you
  • BuzzE - proximity friend finding and networking
  • CheckIn+ - "all-in-one check-in app with augmented reality"
  • Citysense - nightlife discovery and social navigation
  • Ding Dong - ring your friends with your location
  • Echo Echo - share location with friends and coordinate friends' meet-ups
  • Facebook - location sharing and encourages place commentary
  • Find My Friends - Apple-based friend finder
  • Geotracks - real-time friend tracking
  • Google Latitude - real-time friend tracking
  • Grindr and Blendr gay and straight friend and dating finder
  • GyPsii - claims to be the world's largest geosocial network
  • Here I Am - send a link of your location on a map to friends
  • Highlight - "if your friends are nearby, it will notify you. If someone interesting crosses your path, it will tell you more about them"
  • Locle - geo-based friend finder
  • Red Bull Playgrounds - "for outdoor sports enthusiasts, music lovers, and fun seekers. Share where you play, connect with Red Bull Pro athletes and like-minded people, and discover new spots wherever you go"
  • Skout -"find interesting singles close-by, strike up a conversation, maybe grab a drink or share a cup of coffee"
  • Sonar - ambient friend finding
  • - alerts users when they check into restaurants with health-code violations (only via Foursquare in NYC)
  • Endomondo and Moves - tracking running, cycling routes to improve fitness
  • PulsePoint - locates volunteers trained in CPR in emergencies
  • Quench - stay hydrated by locating nearest water fountain or tap (also great for the environment)
  • WebMD Allergy App - geotargetted allergy forecasts, tips,and customizable alerts

Local Discovery and Hyperlocal Information
  • Around Me - find business near your location by biz type (similar for gas is GasBuddy)
  • EveryTrail - "find and follow trips from other travelers"
  • Field Trip - runs in background, when users get to an interesting place (e.g. business, sight) a pop-up appears with details (I'm not sure how "interesting" is defined however)
  • Finderyenables user to annotate their world to share with fiends and public to encourage place exploration
  • Geonotes - leave geotagged notes or subscribe to location-based info 
  • Geopedia - geotargetted Wikipedia entries - as also offered by WikiMe
  • Google+ Local - combines Google's old Places listings with Zagat content and their Google+ social network features
  • Grafetee -placemarking and local discovery & info
  • Historypin - enables users to add old photographs and text narratives to locations
  • Junaio - AR-based vicinity info search, including business and attractions
  • Layar - augmented reality browser
  • Local Books - proximal search for book stores and literary events
  • Murmur - recorded oral histories of place, uses old cellphone tech as users see plaque and call specific number to hear targetted message
  • Nearest Wiki - content from Wikipedia overlaid on places via augmented reality 
  • Sitegeist -  aggregator of locative info, including census data
  • Star Chart - identifies user position to view astronomical information via augmented reality view (Google offers similar functionality with their Google Sky Map service)
  • Tagwhat - a "mobile encyclopedia of where you are... learn all about the world around you through interactive stories, videos, and photos"
  • Trover - "log remarkable places and things by snapping a photo and adding a quick note. When your friends and others pass by in the future they, too, can experience your discovery. Track the paths of friends and other interesting folks using our "follow" mode"
  • Twitter Places - search for tweets within a specified area or tag places in your tweets
  • Weather Channel - geotargetted weather forecasts, possibly the most popular LBS ever
  • Zeitag - historical photographs
Location-based Games
  • Booyah - variety of games, including MyTown and Nightclub City
  • Geocaching - use your mobile device to uncover hidden caches 
  • Ingress - uses physical world as site of collaborative science fiction competition, players explore, document, and interact with their world as part of game play
  • My Town - "built around your local shops, restaurants, and hangouts. Level-up, unlock items, and earn cash to buy your favorite real-life locations."
  • SCVNGR - "share where you are & what you're up to with your friends. Do challenges to earn points and unlock badges & real-world rewards."
  • Tiny Tycoons - "the first location-based tycoon game on the App Store. Build your fortune, travel the globe and claim your favorite real-world places "
Navigation and Transportation
  • BlackBerry Traffic - uses real-time traffic info and user location to identify travel time, closed roads, and alternative routes 
  • Carrr Matey - "a quick, easy to use parking application with a mild pirate theme"
  • Hailo -  taxi-hailing app; uses positioning to identify your pick up location and nearby cabs
  • Flywheel - track and hail taxis in San Francisco
  • Nearest Subway - locates nearest subway station for New York, Chicago, Tokyo, Paris, etc.
  • SitOrSquat - find nearby bathrooms with user reviews of their cleanliness by Charmin (genius marketing effort and I must say the most useful LBS to come along in ages!)
  • Waze - community-based traffic and navigation app
Personal Efficiency and Organization
  • Checkmark - proximal task reminder service
  • Siri's Location Services - directions, recommendations, and personal efficiency services based on your location
  • Matchbook - "an app to save places", facilitates saving and viewing places & businesses to visit
  • Voxora - "voicemail for places", integrates with Foursquare
Social Recommendation and Navigation
  • DeHood - tap into neighbourhood buzz to find local businesses
  • Goby - suggests "fun things to do" based on your location or category (US only)
  • Localmind - get answers about a specific place & real-time events by people who are there
  • Urbanspoon - location and shaking based restaurant recommendations
  • Urbantag - customize a list of favourite places and share with friends
  • Wikitude - offers A.R., map, or list view of various types of proximal content (reviews, deals, and Wikipedia entries)
  • Yelp and Citysearch - user-generated local reviews combined with local search engine
Travel and Place Guides
  • Ask a Nomad - answered on your travel questions from fellow travellers
  • City Maps and Walks - "walking route maps and turn-by-turn walking directions are available to guide you to all the major city attractions"
  • Compass by Lonely Planet - "plot itineraries on dynamic, GPS-enabled map. Grab practical information and useful tips using our augmented reality camera view"
  • Gogobot - travel tips from friends & other users
  • HipGeo - "automatically groups photos, comments, places, tags, likes, and dates together in interesting ways... Besides seeing what your friends or family are doing while out and about, you can also access this user generated information to help plan a trip or discover something interesting."
  • MobilyTrip - social networking travel diary app
  • mTrip - "automatically customizes your trip itinerary...guides you to each tourist attraction with directions, uses augmented reality to display tourist attractions in your area, and allows you to share your trip with personalized e-postcards"
  • RoadTripper - a travel guide for off-the-beaten path explorers to help find "eccentric roadside attractions, breathtaking natural wonders, or mouthwatering foodie feasts"
  • Ski & Snow Report - detailed ski info snow amounts, traffic volume, weather, lift times, etc)
  • Ski Tracks - a GPS-enabled ski log of your routes, velocity, etc. with ability to geotag your pix
  • TimeOut - travel guide apps for various tourist hot-spots
  • TripAdvisor - get TripAdvisor's content on your mobile with proximity search option
  • Trippy - get trip advice from your social network
Early and/or Deceased LBS:
  • Benefon - released in 1999, possibly the first friend finder feature 
  • Brightkite, Centrl, Loopt, Facebook Places, Rally Up, Neer, and Gowalla -  place check-ins & geosocial networking
  • Dodgeball - SMS, pre-cursor to foursquare bought by Google and shut down (see CNET eulogy)
  • Dopplr - social travel planning (bought by Nokia and withered)
  • Flook - offered user-generated geolocated information
  • Glancee - friend finder based on proximity and social and personal commonalities (started in 2010, bought by Facebook and shut down)
  • GeoSpot - started in 2005 and offered location-based information and search products
  • Glassmap - friend tracking app, bought by Groupon, shut down but used for Groupon Now service
  • Hidden Park - "iPhone adventure game created especially for young families...lead(s) children into a fantasy world of trolls, fairies and tree genies - right in their local park"
  • Hurricane Party - helps friends find, share, and create spontaneous parties
  • Fire Eagle and Friends on Fire - location sharing platform and API, by Yahoo
  • Magitti - local recommendation, from PARC (see ReadWriteWeb article)
  • Mscape - location-based gaming platform by HP
  • Moby - family member tracking and coordination
  • Plazes - an early geo-social networking app, bought by Nokia (read eulogy)
  • Poynt - local search with proximity based reviews and mapping
  • Red Rocket - Toronto transit maps, routes, schedules, and nearest stop
  • Seiko' s Locatio - possibly world's first LBS, launched in 1999 it included locative mapping & wayfinding, geo-targetted weather forecasts, and proximal restaurants, hotels, & sights
  • Task Ave- "location-aware reminders. Magically get alerts when you're nearby a task."
  • Tripbirds- travel tips from friends
  • urbantag - tag and share lists of places with friends
  • Whrrl - users joined interest and brand based groups to get recommendations, tips, and deals
Thanks to App Central for their helpful scouting!

In case you're wondering why the app "GPS for the Soul" that Arianna Huffington is hyping isn't on here, it's  not on as not only does it not have any locative elements it has nothing to do with place/places. It's just using the term GPS to be catchy. (Nonetheless, it sounds like very useful app for me.)

As usual, let me know of any corrections or additions.


Anonymous said...

Hey Glen. Thought I'd chip in with one here (albeit from the UK).

A traffic and travel map of the UK's road network that's based on data "aggregated from a number of sources including INRIX Inc. and the Highways Agency".


Glen Farrelly said...

Thanks Chris for the heads-up about Tracker. I hadn't heard of that app, but I had heard of U.K.'s Trafficmaster service. I came across it in researching another blog post on LBS - Milestones in the History of Geo-Locative Services ( Anyway, apparently Trafficmaster was the world's first online service to offer users real-time traffic data to their mobile (in 1997). Seems like the U.K. has a history of innovation in this area. What I'd love is a similar app for public transit (in Toronto).