Becoming Mayor

foursquare, gowalla, google latitude, twitterWhile standing in line for the restroom at CTIA Wireless, a person joked about whether we were going to check in and become mayor of the restroom. Location-based applications are this year’s trending topic, especially at events like SXSW and CTIA. To see which ones worked best, we experimented with Foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude, and Twitter’s new geotagging feature. Here are the results from our study:

Foursquare: If Yelp and Twitter merged and became a game, it would be Foursquare. Foursquare is centered on letting your friends know where you are, giving tips about that location and vice versa – most times this relates to restaurants. We like Foursquare because it gives incentive to check in, not just for virtual badges and “mayor” entitlement (title earned from checking into a place the most), but for real discounts. We’d say Foursquare works the best for social foodies and people constantly on the go who are looking for tips from their wide network of friends.

Gowalla: Gowalla is definitely the most aesthetically pleasing of the four. And unlike the rest, it functions mainly as a geocaching scavenger hunt game. Checking in requires the player to be in an exact location, not just anywhere within the proximity of the venue. The objective is to collect as many stamps in your passport as possible. Gowalla works best for gamers who are out and discovering new places, not sitting in their parent’s basement staring at the computer screen.

Google Latitude: Google latitude basically pinpoints you and your friends’ locations on Google maps. It’s cool to see your friends’ actual location on a map, but why would you need to? We suppose this app would work best for paranoid parents who need to know where their children are at all times.

Twitter: Although Twitter’s geotagging function is similar to Google latitude where the location of the user is pinpointed on a Google map, we find Twitter’s function more useful since it pairs a tweet with a location.  Avid tweeters who want location sharing without the fuss should stick with Twitter.

All four applications cater to different user personalities. We’d like to see Facebook integrate location sharing, and perhaps even make a game out of it. In reality, Facebook is the most accurate representation of our real friends, which is who we want to follow. The good news is, we hear they’re already working on it.

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