location

Tim Bradshaw

It may not be the biggest Microsoft story around today, but it’s a big deal for Foursquare: Microsoft is investing $15m in the social-location app as part of a new four-year commercial partnership.

The $15m investment comes in addition to the $35m that Foursquare raised in December last year from DFJ Growth and Capital Group. The app lets users share their location with friends by “checking in” and then recommends new places based on where they’ve been in the past.

Although uptake hasn’t quite lived up to the hype when it launched in 2009, it has collected a lot of data since then: 5bn check-ins, 60m places and 40m tips, all crowdsourced from some 45m users. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Four billion check-ins later, Foursquare is finding new ways to use all the location data that users have shared with the four-year-old smartphone app.

That includes both new features for users – and new ways to make money from the body of data it’s collected, with third parties. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

As my colleague David Gelles wrote earlier today, Facebook has finally announced its long-expected location service, Places. It’s only available in the US so far but the rest of the world should be getting it through Facebook’s iPhone app and touchscreen site in the next few months.

Places provides very similar a service to the “check in” function provided by Foursquare – which turned down a Facebook takeover earlier this year – but with Facebook’s trademark simplicity and clean design. The main enhancement is that Facebook users can tell the site when their friends are with them at a bar or school, in the same way they can tag them in photos.

It’s a big moment for Facebook, but also for the check-in itself, which alongside the Like button is quickly becoming one of the internet’s most common ways to interact. As well as Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and other location-based services, you can now check-in to the TV show you’re watching (through Miso) or even the dinner you’re eating (thorough Foodspotting). Read more

Chris Nuttall

Google-backed Scvngr, the location-based service that sets challenges for its users (such as Guess the Missing Vowels perhaps?), has been hard at work in San Francisco setting up a game and tourist trek for the Google I/O annual developer conference, which starts on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, journalists have been hard at work on the challenge of guessing what Google might announce – with cars, televisions and frozen yoghurt providing big clues as to its Android ambitions. Read more

David Gelles

When it comes to the long-term success of stand-alone “check-in” services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Booyah, it’s all about incentives.

Sure, a few hundred-thousand early adopters might find social value in sharing their location with the world. But in order for checking-in to go mainstream, these companies will have to offer users a compelling answer to the question “Why?”

Foursquare is inching towards a meaningful response with a bevy of partnerships, including its latest promotion with StarbucksRead more

David Gelles

The latest changes to Facebook’s privacy policy are already drawing the ire of privacy advocates concerned about the social networking site’s plans to automatically share user information with certain sites.

Yet included in the proposed changes are hints that Facebook is also preparing to make location-sharing an integral part of its service, something that could further push the boundaries of how much personal information users are, perhaps unwittingly, exposing to the public. Read more

David Gelles

As anticipated, location-sharing services were the talk of the town in Austin as engineers and entrepreneurs convened for the South by Southwest Interactive festival.

“Location, location location,” Playfish chief operating officer Sebastien de Halleux told me when I caught up with him. “It’s a big theme for the web at this stage.”

That may be true. But despite the genuine promise of location-based services, and all the hype around the budding rivalry between Foursquare and Gowalla — rival applications that let users “check-in” and share their location with friends — this stuff is still a long way from being mainstream. Read more