Home iTunes Features Location Apps with New “On the Grid” Section

iTunes Features Location Apps with New “On the Grid” Section

When social networking behemoth Facebook launched its foray into the location game with Places, some declared that apps like Foursquare and Gowalla would be rendered obsolete. The result, so far, has been quite the contrary, as the megaphone of Facebook has helped spread the word about location apps to the laypeople. Today, the mobile location app market got another big boost as iTunes launched “On the Grid,” (iTunes Link) a special showcase featuring geosocial iOS apps on the front page of the App Store.

You can find the new section both in the App Store tab within iTunes, or in the “What’s Hot” section of the App Store on iOS devices. Disappointingly, however, iTunes is shining the spotlight on just 12 applications, some of which use location as merely an added feature to its main function. The usual suspects – Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and Loopt – are all present and accounted for, and others like Foodspotting and Yelp are featured as well.

Apple also decided to include Twitter, an app whose location functionalities are quite secondary (if not tertiary) to its primary function as a microblogging service and social network, among the list of featured apps. Sure, the app keeps track of where you are when you tweet, but not many people are really using Twitter to track the location of their friends.

Facebook’s updated app, which now allows users to check-in both themselves and their friends at various locations, is also included. Though Facebook is primarily a social networking app, the check-in functionality of the app makes their presence on this list fair.

All of the apps listed in the “On the Grid” section are free with the exception of one, GeoFences – a $0.99 app that allows users to configure push alerts based on geographic areas. While all of the apps on the list include some sort of social location functionality, I worry that the average App Store browser may find the list confusing. They may fail to connect the dots on why an app like Twitter is listed beside Yelp and an app like GeoFences which they may not have even heard of.

The creation of a special iTunes location-based app section is important for the industry. One could even argue that location has finally “made it,” but perhaps the iTunes list could have used more curation. Oddly, there is no subhead description of the “On the Grid” section like there are for many other sections. Even the “Hardcore Games” section has a few lines of text explaining a bit about the games that made the cut.

It also would be nice to see some more apps fill the section out. Where are apps like GeoLorean and Check.in? They would have made solid additions to “On the Grid.” What other apps do you think are missing? Let us know in the comments below!

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