Location-based check-in applications are hot, or at least that's what the media keeps telling us. However, studies have found that while location-based users are passionate, adoption is limited.

That said, developers, advertisers and marketers still need to be aware of the general trends in this area. These apps may be small now, but usage is growing. Foursquare, for example, has 3 million users who have checked in 185 million times as of September - an increase from only 40,000,000 check-ins in May.

Now is the time to experiment before these services hit the mainstream. Below are two new tools for doing just that.

For Developers: GeoIQ's Relaunch

Developer resource ProgrammableWeb this week announced the relaunch of the GeoIQ API (API or "application programming interface," is a tool for developers), which collects and displays location analytics data. The new platform called "Titanium+Geo" represents a partnership between Appcelerator and FortiusOne, the GeoIQ API provider. It's said to be the first location analytics platform of its kind.

Appcelerator is the maker of Titanium, an app-building platform for developers. The company currently supports over 72,000 developers and has 4,200 apps deployed on over 5 million devices. And when it wanted to add location-based analytics to its Titanium product, it turned to GeoIQ.

"Geo+Titanium" will now automatically create dashboards showing developers where, when and how their apps are being used along with meaningful statistics and metrics, explains GeoIQs Sean Gorman via company blog post.

It combines internal data (like coupons, customer databases and location information) with external data (like Twitter, demographics and competitive information) to create actionable data. This "actionable data" could be running a promotion, selling advertising or opening a new location.

Says ProgrammableWeb, "Titanium+Geo may be the first location analytics platform, but it certainly won't be the last," and they point to Appcelerator's recent mobile developer report which showed 42% of developers are now interested in geo-analytics. That's a niche that's begging to be filled with a wide range of competitors.

For Marketers: Leveraging Foursquare with FourScore

On the flip side of the location trend is the need to understand consumer adoption, specifically things like what do check-ins mean? What is their value? Do my business have a lot of check-ins? Should I even use location-based marketing? And so on.

Reported first by MobileMarketingWatch, a new service called FourScore may soon address these needs. (The service is now in beta). FourScore, which only works with Foursquare right now, will provides two measures of Foursquare activity:

1) Competitive Foursquare: This is a measurement of Mayorship turnover. For example, a score of 600 means a venue has 6 times the "Mayor" turnover of your competition. If zero, your venue has no mayor or no turnover at all.

2) Check-in Foursquare: This measurement is an index of how the volume of check-ins compares to others in your category. Again, a score of 600 here would mean you have 6 times the check-ins as your competition.

From the sounds of it, this tool will serve a real need for those struggling to understand the impact and worth of the check-ins their business receives.

This is Only the Beginning....

These tools may be the first of their kind, but this niche is about to explode - the same way location-based advertising seemingly "blew up overnight," as we reported earlier this month. Location-based advertising is now expected to be a $1.8 billion dollar industry by 2015. Don't wait until the last second to get it figured out - start testing out new tools like those above today.

If you know of other location-based tools and services, please comment below!