Anything that involves tracking a user's location is termed as Geolocation.
Geolocating something is the process by which content including videos, tweets, and blog posts are tagged with GPS data such as street address or co-ordinates.
Currently, the geolocation sector is booming, developments are being driven by applications such as Foursquare and Gowalla.
These apps allow the user to “check in” to a location, share it with their friends and receive benefits for doing so. For a more detailed look at Foursquare, check out my previous post, “Introducing Foursquare”
Applications that use geolocation allow a greater interaction between the user and the environment. Users can post recommendations on restaurants, films, good places to go, or events in the area.
Foursquare is using this interaction to provide users with points, awards and voucher deals in the venues where they check in.
For example, here in the UK, the pizza company Domino’s rewards the mayor (a user who has checked in the most) of each outlet with a free pizza. A more localised one is a pub here in Cheltenham, The Brown Jug, offering a free steak to the mayor on a Monday.
At the moment, geolocation applications are mainly hitting the mobile market (to which they are best suited); such as HTCs, iPhones and any other mobile with a GPS chip.
However, in conjunction with the development of the mobile market, desktops and laptops can now integrate with geolocation services. Popular browsers such as Firefox and Chrome have incorporated geolocation support within their browsers.
Over the rest of the year, social media is predicted to get more and more involved with geolocation and the features that can be built around it.
Big social networks such as Facebook are expected to be rolling out their own bespoke geolocation features for their 500 million users.
Plus, with the rumored development of Google Me (Google’s social networking site), the addition of geolocation to Google Maps and social media, will provide some really interesting results and progress. To get an idea of what could be created, take a look at Google’s Latitude service which links in location with the map service.
With all of the competition growing around geolocation, it is almost certain that the future of social networking is going to be location based.