Foursquare Brings “Beyond Check-In” Notifications to Android First

Foursquare, love it or hate it, is a major player in the burgeoning geolocation check-in service industry. Their apps are important for usage of the service, allowing for users to check-in to the locations they visit, so friends can see where they are visiting, and to discover popular hangouts in their city. What this new update provides are expanded notifications from the service. Users can now get notifications of when other Foursquare users comment on check-ins, when friends sign up for Foursquare, alerts about tips on Foursquare, alerts about when a user’s Foursquare mayorship is usurped, along with more of these “beyond check-in” notifications. These should hopefully expand users’ Foursquare experiences, and get them more relevant information when they need it.

What’s most interesting about this update? Android is getting the notifications update first. While this is also available on the web Foursquare, Android is the first mobile client to get access to these new notifications. Typically, iOS gets notifications support first, in part because Apple’s notification system, while flawed, is superior for instant updating due to all notifications running through Apple’s servers; Google’s C2DM (cloud to device messaging) goes more unused, and applications usually utilize interval-based notification checking. So, for a notification service to launch on Android first is big news, and a major push for notifications on Android. These features will likely hit iOS and Blackberry as well, but Android users get a lucky first crack at them.

While Foursquare remains a service that is geared more toward residents of larger cities (Foursquare was founded in Chicago, a city with plenty of places to check-in, and one of the most popular cities on the service), and updates to services like Twitter can clog a person’s feed without providing any relevant information, especially for followers who are not residents of that person’s city, its popularity is difficult to question, and this new update is a real benefit for Android users. Foursquare is available for free from the Android Market.

Source: Talk Android

Wikitude World Browser Review

Wikitude World Browser Review

May 9, 2011

One of the coolest developments of the smartphone era has been the rise of augmented reality. Using your phone’s camera, AR apps place information and entertainment directly onto the world around you. In essence, they turn your phone into a magical lens, through which the world becomes more interesting and local knowledge can easily be attained.

Wikitude World Browser, from Mobilizy GMBH, allows you to build an AR world of your own, filled with details, directions and other snippets of information about the area you find yourself in. It also lets you look at any geo-tagged tweets, Flickr pictures and users that are around you as well. You’re building up a picture of your surroundings, using data that’s widely available on the internet.

For example, if you’re in a new town and you fancy finding something interesting to do, you can set the app to show all of the Foursquare check-in points. Hold your phone up and Wikitude will show you the direction you have to travel, as well as how far away the check-in points are. There’s a handy map view as well, if you want to double check your route to whatever activity you fancy.

Wikitude also allows you to create your own “worlds”, by joining together different search options. Maybe you want to check on all the tweets that have been posted nearby, and all the Wikipedia points of interest – create your own world and you can do that every time you’re somewhere new.

There are a few problems with the app – it’s awkward to use if you’re sitting down, because the app expects you to be standing up, meaning you have to wave it about above your head if you’re using the camera view. Also, sometimes the directions aren’t perfect – a fault of the information the app is collating rather than the app itself – but it’s still annoying when you’ve followed your camera into a dead end rather than a happening nightspot.

As a first step into the world of AR apps, Wikitude is brilliant. It shows off a lot of features and ideas that are, over time, going to become the norm in smartphone applications. It’s not perfect, but updates and more user input will likely smooth out the worst of its problems. If you haven’t downloaded Wikitude yet, then might I suggest you make your next stop the Android Market, because it’s going to open up a whole new world of possibilities for you.

Foursquare 3.0 – New Explore Tab, Leaderboard and more…

Foursquare 3.0 – New Explore Tab, Leaderboard and more…

Mar 14, 2011

Insanely popular social check-in site Foursquare celebrated 2 years of ‘checking-in’ with a revamped Foursquare 3.0. This updated version improves on real world features and the Foursquare idea of “making cities easier to use.”

Foursquare announced their new 3.0 in a heart-felt blog last week and highlighted some of the major changes which included a new “Explore” tab, a major overhaul to the leaderboard and six new types of Foursquare “Specials” for merchants.