Geolocation apps have boomed in the past years, but few have made it to mainstream audience like Foursquare. As tech experts have pointed out, going beyond the early adopter’s enthusiasm is the main challenge for any geolocation service.
After Highlight, the much buzzed about app that allows you to find people near you with potential similar interests, or the new version of Instagram adding a map of your photo history, what is the future for geolocation services?
Storytelling seems to be at the center of it all. Instagram storyboards your life through your photos and their locations, Facebook Timeline organizes your life’s data, and the tourism industry is also discovering new opportunities to enhance one’s experiences through geolocation.
Now app, launched in May 2012, is a live city guide for iPad and iPhone, and uses geolocation to share photos of places and events you attend in real time. It is a way to guide users to what’s hot in a certain place at a specific time, while giving you the opportunity to create your own city guide with your own photos.
rootshed.com caught up with Ben Broca, a Columbia graduate who hails from France, CEO and founder of Now. He explains why the app has a future among the mainstream audience:
Nora Poggi/rootshed.com: How did you start Now?
Ben Broca: It started as a side project playing around with the Instagram API. But I soon realized that there were really interesting things to do with all these public geotagged pictures being taken. I then decided to work on Now, that I launched after 2 months, on the side of my full-time job. I eventually quit my job to work on Now full-time, when I got really great feedback on the product.
How is Now different than people posting pictures on Facebook, Instagram or Foursquare?
First, Now tries to show you what’s hot and happening nearby, based on where there is a lot of social activity. It tries to be more objective by letting anyone share publicly what’s happening where they are. Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare are more about letting your friends know what you’re doing or thinking.
Why choose to be about public data rather than recommendations from friends?
Friends’ recommendations are very powerful, but people also enjoy objectivity. There is objectivity in photo sharing because when a lot of different people take photos of a given place or event, they are all saying that there’s something interesting happening there.
What are the challenges of using geolocation and personal data?
We never use private data. We only use geolocation data of people who explicitly decided to publicly share that information. I think the web tends towards people being more comfortable with sharing their location, so we are not too concerned about that.
Will users be able to add reviews of events or places in the future?
We believe that when people take the time to share an event on Now, it’s already a way of recommending that event. We think it’s a much more interesting way to review a place – through photos of great experiences that happened there. In the future, our goal is to have more and more quality content.
You can try Now here.
What do you think of the live city guide concept? Are geolocation apps helpful in the long-run? Hit the comments below!