Localmind, the iPhone app that lets users engage in Q&A based on their location and Foursquare check-ins, announced the availability of an API last week. Right now, the app lets users ask questions of each other that could only be answered by someone on the scene and the API will bring that functionality to other apps.
According to Localmind co-founder Lenny Rachitsky, the move is part of its plan to become the "platform for knowing what's happening anywhere in the world, right now."
Localmind lets you ask questions of anyone checked in using Foursquare and connected with the Localmind app, wherever they might be. That is, you can find out about the line at the movie theater across town or you can find out if the guy that cooks the pizza the way you like it is working at the pizzeria tonight.
The API gives developers access to Localmind's Q&A platform, letting them search for conversations according to user or location. It also gives developers to send and receive questions according to location.
Rachitsky says that the API is already being implemented by mConcierge, a white-labeled mobile app for hotels that will use the API to send questions to hotel concierges, and to give hotel patrons local activity data around the hotel. It's just the beginning, however.
"Today, we allow you to send questions to find out whatever you want. In the future, we want to give you the answer before you even ask," said Rachitsky. "This means short-term integration with real-time check-ins, Twitter commentary, weather data. Long term, this means integrating with real-world sensors that track noise, parking, seat-capacity, inventory, etc. The API is a means to give real-time omniscience to other services."
Rachitsky described a couple other implementations of the Localmind API that are currently in the works but said he couldn't name any names yet. For example, if you use a venue discovery app (such as Yelp, perhaps), Rachitsky says that the "last mile of 'what's it actually like right now'" is missing and answers from someone on the ground could help fill in the blanks. The most compelling implementation involves the ability to send a question to a location when you get directions.
The only problem we're running into, however, is coming up with questions. Aside from "how long is the line?" or "is it crowded?" or "does the band suck?" we're having a hard time thinking of what you need to ask a stranger at a location that you couldn't find out using Yelp, Foursquare, Google or any other similar service. Heck, for lots of things, you could just call the place, right?
We're likely being unimaginative, but every other Localmind review we've seen has offered nearly identical examples and use cases. What do you think - what makes the idea of asking a stranger, based solely on their location, intriguing? Or are you not convinced?