MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Relevance of location-based apps in question

Mar 18, 2012, 9:18 AM | Updated: 11:08 am

Have you ever been out in public and wondered if someone you knew was nearby? Well, there’s now an app for that.

A group of “ambient awareness apps” were spotlighted during the SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas last week, where hundreds of technology bloggers were introduced to the new location-based applications.

These apps help users discover friends — or strangers who share similar interests — that are in your vicinity based off the personal information documented on specific social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The location-based technology highlights some lesser known apps — i.e. Banjo, Highlight, and Glancee — to pull information from your personal profiles in order to track the specific location of people you may know that are nearby.

Monica Guzman, a journalist for “Geekwire”, discussed her experience using the new application at the festival on this weekend’s “Geekwire” podcast.

“At a place like South By Southwest, this app was very hot,” Guzman explained. “It was the most talked about thing there, and the truth is there were just so many geeks around you that it would not shut up.

“It got a little noisy, but something tells me that in real life outside of South By Southwest there [are] different questions about its usefulness and its relevance.”

While it may seem convenient to be notified when a friend is nearby, Todd Bishop wondered whether the application would provide useful for a Facebook friend you may not be familiar with.

“I was sitting there Sunday morning on my couch and suddenly it notified me that some guy I’ve never met named Matt was driving down Market Street about a quarter-mile away from my house, and I was like what do you do?” Bishop asked.

Another issue with the service is whether or not it violates certain privacy laws. Some may not want others to know where they’re located at during certain times of the day, but users can disable their phone GPS in case they don’t want their location to be revealed.

“I was thinking this would have totally been awesome in high school,” Bishop opined.

Geekwire can be heard Saturdays at 7:00 a.m. and Sundays at 1:00 p.m. on 97.3 KIRO FM weekends. You can also listen to the show ON DEMAND at MyNorthwest.com.

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Relevance of location-based apps in question