Just when you thought the swell of popularity around location-based services has hit the high water mark, the tide keeps rising.
All of the major web search engines are location-aware. Twitter has its own geocoder and Facebook is including location data in status updates. The big photo-sharing services like Flickr and Picasa support geotagging. Social location apps from Foursquare and Yelp are all the rage, and augmented reality is being touted as the next big thing. The emerging HTML5 specification has its own geolocation controls that let webapps find a user’s location through the browser.
We’ve reached the point where the addition of location data inside an application isn’t a special “bells-and-whistles” add-on, an experimental feature or a layer that’s only useful to some users.
It’s a standard feature now, and it’s crept into every product we care about.
“Location is something that people are just going to expect from now on,” says Brady Forrest, program chair for the O’Reilly Where 2.0 conference, the three-day event about all things location-based taking place in San Jose, California this week.
The location revolution was fueled by the proliferation of geo-enabled devices, Forrest says. Since most of us are carrying GPS devices in our pockets (every iPhone and Android phone has one, and most notebooks, too), it’s created a whole new application platform on which companies from different sectors — search, mapping, gaming, social networking, location-sharing — can compete.
“The platform is here,” he says. “Now, people are finding new ways to exploit it.”