About a month ago, I officially joined the ranks of iPhone users. Since then, I've been introduced to an entire new world of mobile phone apps, and on-the-go social networking. One of my favorite discoveries - and one of the major reasons why I purchased my iPhone in the first place is the abundance of location based iPhone apps. These applications help me find new restaurants, bars and other nightlife spots wherever I go, and they help me say in touch or meet up with friends in the area. For the fellow iPhone owners who read this blog, I've created a list of some of my favorite location based iPhone apps.
Much like fellow listee, Yelp, Urbanspoon helps you figure out where to eat. Urbanspoon takes a much narrower approach to this service then Yelp does by focusing only on local restaurants. Urbanspoon features a creative interface, where you shake the phone to get new eating options.
Loopt is another location based "friend connecting" application. Loopt is not limited to the iPhone, as it works on multiple platforms, including almost all of the major cell phone carriers. Loopt allows you to see which friends are around you. The best thing I've ever done with the application is ping my friends who were nearby to meetup with them at some agreed upon location.
BrightKite was the first location based application I started using. But this was over a year ago, back when I was still using my old flip phone. So I didn't get to take full advantage of it's features until I started using the iPhone. BrightKite probably does the best job of any of these applications developing the community side of their app. BrightKite can handle photos and status updates, plus you can cross post your updates to a variety of social media websites.
Gowalla is the local favorite. I've only used Gowalla sparingly, but I have to say that it has the coolest looking design of almost any iPhone app that I've used to date. Gowalla bills themselves as a location based travel game that rewards users for visiting different locations. Currently, the company behind Gowalla is only focusing development work on Austin, New York City, Boston and San Francisco. Users can still add and check-in at locations for other cities.
AroundMe does exactly what you think it would. It helps you find a variety of services, stores, and restaurants near you. Listings are grouped by category, and it even features a category for Apple Retail Stores. AroundMe has no community or social networking features.
Foursquare was recently cited in Mashable as having the potential to be the next Twitter. In many ways, I think they could be onto something. After playing Foursquare for a few days, I've become addicted! Foursquare combines the community features of a good location based social network, with the competitive features of a scavenger hunt on steroids. Users compete for points in their city, user badges, and vie for the prestigious spot of "mayor" for different locations. Once you get started with Foursquare, it's hard to stop!
Where, oh where would I be without Yelp? Probably still thinking about a place to go eat dinner... Yelp has saved me so much trouble when it comes to finding places to go in Dallas for pleasures of the culinary variety. And now that I have it on my iPhone, I can feel safe with the knowledge that I will never again have to be concerned with where to eat dinner.
Moximity is a location based app that allows you to connect with friends in your vicinity, and see where they are at the moment. The idea (like many of htese iPhone apps) is to facilitate in-person interactions with your friends. Moximity's pitch, however, is that the app can tie in to your other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.