The idea is not new, the concept is also not really new but the execution is new! Location based services are now capturing the world at an amazing pace!
To think of it a mobile phone was a location based service. It provided a moving point of contact for a person. Now with the launch of iPhone apps and similar adaptation into other phones, the location based services are becoming more and more popular. In the iPhone you have AroundMe, Yelp!, Google Maps, Twitter, and UrbanSpoon using your current location. Moreover the latest service by Google called Latitude is an amazing addition.
With people fond of trying new places such location based services have become really popular. Just go to any part of the city and launch these applications, find new restaurants and shops, read reviews and pick one of your choice.
In urban cities like Bombay, Delhi, London, NY where traveling from one place to another can take a lot of time, a service like Google Latitude is quite amazing. As soon as you get free you can just switch on the service and see who all amongst your friends are nearby and then perhaps join the nearest ones.
To think of it, this is not the first time such an idea is being floated. A couple of years ago another idea was floated in India by mobile service providers which would provide you with location based service. The idea was to send you text messages / sms based on your location about the offers / deals / interesting shops near your current location. This service never really picked up! Let us try and analyze why
- User Choice to Switch On or Off the Service: The most important feature required is to make the user feel that he is in control. With the current services the information about his location is passed on to the applications only when he asks for the service and not by default. In the sms case the user was not given an option.
- User Interface: Sms although very popular, has a very limited power of communication and thus also led to the concept failing. With the current screens, internet based phones the User Interface can be made really smooth and friendly.
- Privacy: The phones and applications always ask whether to send your location info or not! What if someone is spying on you and gets an application switched on once which always tracks your position! The current apps take care of privacy.
- Increase and comfort in User Knowledge: Over the past few years users have become more comfortable with sharing information and also got used to such devices. I guess we can say that the sms idea was a bit ahead of its time.