One of the very first apps I downloaded on the iPhone was Around Me, and it’s still one of my go-to’s. It’s simple and it does exactly what the name implies – it finds your location and shows you all the critical services around you — banks, coffee shops, bars, gas stations, hospitals, movie theaters, restaurants and so on. It comes through in the clutch whenever I’m in an area that I don’t know well, which makes it an indispensable travel tool. It makes you a local expert in less than a few minutes. At a conference in a new city and want coffee? Instead of wasting time asking strangers, you’re already on your way to the Starbucks that’s around the corner, exactly 119 yards away. Need an ATM? Gas? Medication at a pharmacy? Hungry and want to know what your meal options are in a 2-3 block radius? You get the picture. The app orders the services by their proximity to you and gives you quick access to mapped directions, and touch-to-call phone info. The latest release also includes Twitter and Facebook integration so you can share the location of meeting spots or recommendations etc with your friends. Enough said. For this app alone, it’s worth moving to an iPhone.
Here’s a quick video overview of what the app does.
Expect Competition For Geolocation Services To Heat Up This Year
There have been a lot of apps like Around Me to hit mobile devices over the past 12 months. Google (of course) is the sleeping giant for geoweb services and they’ve started to release location based offerings this week that will start to challenge the space and put the squeeze on smaller players. Last week Google announced a mobile search service called “Near Me Now” that makes their mobile search page location aware, giving mobile users access to a lot of the same type of information that apps like Around Me do.
Yesterday, Google also announced Place Pages targeting local businesses, which many believe is another maneuver meant to dethrone Yelp as the de facto resource for local venue information and customer review data. We’ll see how this one plays out. You can expect a lot of me-too players to show up very soon, so it’ll be interesting to see how (if at all) Google innovates and sets the pace. As the web gets denser and geo tagging scales up to put all the data into context, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for innovation across the board, so we can only hope for startups to think way outside the box and give us all things we’ve never seen before. I know one thing – access to location information and maps on my iPhone has turned me into a heavy user of geoweb services in my daily life and I’m itching to see what’s coming. The war is on.