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All posts tagged Location

Waze Is As Near To Ubiquitous…

… As any mobile app is going to get. Certainly in the day-to-day real world arena.

The acquisition by Google last year was a welcome move for anyone who is a frequent visitor / user of Google Maps.

The addition of Waze Social Traffic reporting geo-data layer makes Google Maps into probably the best application in its field.

Waze plus Google Maps

Do I Like Maps?

You might have guessed it or read it in other posts here that I have a background in Geography, Cartography, GIS and testing Location Based Apps. Maps are also something of a passion for me.

A map on my wall at home - not Waze

1 A map hanging at home on the wall

Several years ago I was put in the position of having to explain to a roomful of engineers how GPS works and the underlying principles behind map coordinate systems. At the end of my talk (which I sweated bullets over for several days prior to giving the talk) an engineer came over to me and thanked me for making the subject come alive for him.

Just the other day I was cleaning out a drawer and found my Lensatic compass and cartography pens; I don’t have much call to use them but I cleaned them off for sentimental reasons.

retro lensatic compass - not Waze

So yes, you might say I love maps and all things related.

Where Does Google Come In?

So here we have a vertical teeming with action: Microsoft investing in Foursquare, Yahoo licensing data from Yelp, Google adding Waze geo-data to its own. In addition to exposing more users to Waze data through Google Maps what else is Google bringing to the pot?

  • Android and iOS apps have built in Google Search
  • Waze Map Editor incorporates Street View and Satellite imagery as of August 20, 2013.

Google clearly have given some thought to the ensuring added value in both directions. Waze as an app and Google Maps both benefit here.

The Warptest POV

Two main areas of Google’s endeavors struck me as adding value here: –

  1. Google Glass: the official site shows that Glass has some form of Google Maps but does/will this incorporate Waze? More to the point is driving wearing Glass going to come under legislative scrutiny with a ticket already issued in California for one Glass wearer but at the same time NYPD testing how they can incorporate it into law enforcement.

Google Glass - Will it use Waze

2 From the official Google Glass site

  1. Autonomous Robots: Google has been investing in the autonomous car for some time, in addition in 2013 they bought Boston Dynamics famous for their advances in (somewhat eerie) robotics but perhaps the most interesting area might be in taking a leaf from Amazon’s announced desire to use drones and add this to Google Maps / Waze.

The primary use case for this would be either to have aerial drones full-time over high traffic congestion zones providing users with real-time aerial photography or drones could be triggered by reports of a road accident to arrive on-scene and provide the same real time data. Obviously like Amazon this will be subject to FAA approval but perhaps ground level real-time imagery via Boston Dynamics robotic creations is an interim measure.

Boston Robotics - Can it help Waze

Is there a scenario where the autonomous cars will react to Waze reports? Something to consider.

Meanwhile, concept cars like the Renault Kwid with its own onboard aerial drone are going to have to think about what happens when a bunch of Kwids have drones in the air in the same locale.

One thing is certain, the potential for adding real-time data is already exists in other projects at Google. When do you think we will see this as a Waze feature?

Location And Foursquare Are Hot News Again…

Just last week Foursquare announced a $15 million investment from Microsoft with the intent of Bing and other services leveraging the incredible added value of Foursquare’s check-in database.

Now we are reading in Recode about Marissa Mayer’s bid for Yahoo to utilize Yelp reviews for similar purposes by licensing their content.

Just to segue momentarily, I began writing this post before these pieces of news came along and forced me to sit and rethink my perception of the subject (but only slightly). That said this resulted in some major rewriting and ummm challenge of having predictions proven right before I could finish and post the darn thing.

So What?

Looking at the post on Foursquare’s blog announcing the news there are some key pieces of information to be digested:

“…60,000,000 entries and 5,000,000,000 check-ins” is an incredible measure of success and the Microsoft investment speaks volumes about how the data behind all these check-ins will contribute to Windows and Windows Phone apps and services.

I’ve postulated in the past that Foursquare is the source of consumer behavioral / business intelligence just waiting to be analyzed but putting that aside for a moment the key phrase in Foursquare’s blog post announcing Microsoft’s investment is “contextually aware experiences”.

What does context mean in terms of information and content from applications like Yelp and Foursquare?

Yelp - logo - foursquareFoursquare - logo

Context, context, context!

So, what does context mean with regard to location and check-ins?

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We can classify check-ins according to: –

  • Location Name.
  • Type.
  • Expected Activity.
  • Expected Duration (a function of Expected Activity).
  • Habitual (or not).
  • Recommendation: explicit when a user adds a strong comment, implicit when they are a frequent or habitual check-in or the Mayor in Foursquare’s case.

Does context simply mean this or is there another layer of data and usage just waiting for Yahoo or Microsoft to take advantage of?

The Warptest POV

Referring back to my segue about having to rewrite this post, I was hurriedly finishing up my post when a post in Twitter on my split screen caught my eye on the Verge about Project Cortana on Windows Phone using Foursquare. The phrase I was writing before I read this post was that “contextually aware services will evolve the Smartphone into the Intelligent Phone” at this point though I decided to pour myself a single malt and not get frustrated at being beaten to the punch three times on one post.

Whether the rumor of the voice activated, interactive Cortana “AI” is correct or not, the evolution of Location and Check-Ins is here. Whether Microsoft and Yahoo attack this in the same direction or not we’ll have to wait and see.

IMHO “contextually aware services” should be aiming for these kind of cases. If I check-in at a coffee-shop then unless I habitually take meetings there (and share that) the expectation is I’ll be there for coffee and maybe a bite to eat; especially if this the coffee shop I use en route to my “I’m at work” check-in. In a nutshell, context should allow us to realize how long based on location someone is expected to be there before they actually check-out.

Context also needs to offer greater monetization opportunities: If I check-in every day at the start of my run and mention a brand of running shoe (or even if I don’t) then a smart sports store nearby could follow me, extrapolate based on average run time / distance the wear on my shoes and after several months offer me a discount coupon for a new pair of running shoes.

notification - foursquaree-coupons - foursquare

Even simpler is the idea of e-coupons for whatever retail outlet you check-in: the moment a habitual (read loyal) customer checks-in the e-coupons should appear in a notification.

This is the “evolution of
the Smartphone into the Intelligent Phone”. Having Cortana deliver this to me intuitively and automatically will make it so.

At the end of the day winning in Locational Social Mobile will not just depend on which data provider the content discovery and services build on but on the added value they offer as a result. A big question is but how will Yahoo compete on Mobile Services and Apps not just in browser search?

Are you ready to check-in?

Do you use Facebook Events? It’s a feature I like and end up using a lot.

(Saying that I don’t manage my calendar from Facebook and I find the export event feature a real pain. I tend to just copy paste to my GCal then sync with my mobile.)

Facebook has another really nice feature Places. It’s their entry into Locational Services and “Check-Ins” and at present is available mainly to iPhone and Android phones or on other Web enabled mobiles via the following URL: –

This feature allows the user to share their latest or real-time location.

How come Events and Places don’t converge and work together?

Places uses Bing Maps and has a “Get Directions” Feature but when I checked, it doesn’t use the last check-in as Start or End point.

If I was testing this feature I would definitely be reporting this as a bug.

Facebook Mobile Places

Bing Mobile Map - Facebook

If I accept an Event why doesn’t this piggyback on Places to offer me a route to the Event. Neat options would be: –

1. Give me a route now (at time of accepting the Event invite).

2. Offer me a route each time my location changes in Places.

3. Let me set an “alarm” for x hours before the Event to check my location and offer me a route to the Event.

So what do you think, should Facebook start maximizing these features to give users a more convergent experience? How important is an integrated location service to your social networking?

Technorati Tags: ,,,,,,Locational Services
Seirra Madre - Badges

Geo-web version 1.0: if you asked me how I perceive the cluster of geo or Location Based Social web applications  around today, that would probably be my answer.

gowalla 4sq

These are truly Web 2.0 applications and mobile or smart phone enabled at that. After all what’s the point of sending the same location form your desktop PC?

These applications are 1st generation to me, why? Well let’s glance at what they do: –

  • Checking In – this is the term describing the process of sharing your location.
  • Social – again the collaborative element but also coupled to..
  • Competitive – the process of earning badges of achievement or status/ ranking based on overall frequency of check-ins and frequency per location.
  • Contribution – the user is able to add to the overall geo-database with new locations.
  • Proximity – this again ties back to the Social Element: when you see a friend has just checked in at a nearby coffee shop etc you may decide to call them or simply surprise them.
  • Implicit Advertising  platform – each check-in that relates to a given store, coffee shop, restaurant is de facto an ad and the frequency of check-ins and or competition over mayorship of the location boosts the online profile of the location.

So, what’s next? Or more appropriately what should these platforms be doing to give us added value beyond badges, coupons and collaboration?

I know the video seems kind of harsh and actually I like the badges thing but my question remains: added value?

Location in a social networking platform should be about two things relevance  and context.

  1. Relevance: who is my location relevant to?
  2. Context: what aspects of my location make it relevant to me or others in my network?

In a relevant, contextual framework if I connect my Twitter / Facebook, Blog etc to Locations these simply shouldn’t be an outlet for my check-ins or changes in ranking. The Locational application should index and retrieve data that I post in these to create an extensive profile of me and those included in my network.

If for example in my Facebook profile I describe myself as Jewish and Religious then obviously I am only interested in Kosher restaurants; If I tweet for example about being lactose intolerant then I’m not really interested in Dairy restaurants.

Now this isn’t a hard and fast rule but the ability to glean information from external networks that a Locational application is connected to provides context. Which further allows the application to rank or filter the information on a by user basis.

An example of relevance is that I may check-in at a new location for me such as “I have just landed at Newark Airport, NJ” and one of my network happens to be mayor there. The Locational application would suggest based on relevance that they are the user with the most extensive knowledge and familiarity of the location.

Beyond this perhaps at conferences and the like the Locational application would utilize Augmented Reality to display user IDs over the head of people in my network as they check-in.

A final thought, I spoke about added value and all these ideas are nice but remember this each check-in is another point of information adding to an ever growing geographical database.

I for one would love to see a coverage map displaying the world and which parts of the world, countries and cities are and are not within the geo-database and the volume of users for each location.