Localmind believes it knows what the future of place-based social networking looks like. It lets you use your phone to ask questions of people who are hanging out at a restaurant, bar, park or other venue.Mobile location service
"How crowded is the restaurant right now?" you might ask. If a Localmind user or one of your friends on Foursquare has checked-in at the restaurant in question, they will be sent your question in real time. About half the time, it seems, they'll write you right back! It's like the mobile phones of your friends are your eyes looking around the corner. With today's new release of the app, Localmind users can send photos in response to questions, answer questions older than real time and get forwarded all questions for places they are regulars at. It's a cool service and a small company to watch for the future.
Bigger and older competitor Loopt launched a polling feature similar to Localmind's this Spring, but the Localmind UI and agile development are particularly appealing.
Network effects can still be a bit of a challenge. Localmind recently moved from Montreal to San Francisco to focus on building its user base in the Bay Area. It gets to ride along with Foursquare, but that service is only so popular as well. The end result is that in a city like Portland, Oregon (where I live) there are huge numbers of people interested in location-based services and mobile social networks, but still not a whole lot of action on Localmind. The new ability to answer older questions may change that. The company also just released an Android app last week, and that could help.
The big change today comes in the form of photos, though. It is super cool to be able to ask for an assessment of what is happening in a place and get a photo someone just took in response.
Localmind says future versions of its app will leverage iOS5's improved battery management for persistent location tracking and will aim to go beyond the last-mile of real-time location. Recommendation and other features based on the rich set of data enabled by mobile location tracking are in the company's game plan. We've long argued that while the Web world goes gaga over Twitter data, mobile location data offers a much larger body of material to work with.