“Experian Hitwise has released its yearly search term statistics and once again, Facebook and YouTube top the list. The remainder of the top 10 includes three more Facebook-related terms, a couple of Yahoo! variants, craigslist, eBay, and MapQuest. Of course it’s highly unlikely that all the millions of people putting those terms in the top 10 are actually looking for information or the latest news about them; they just want a quick way to the site without having to clumsily type dots and slashes.”
The fact that people do this boggles my mind. I remember the first time I saw it – when I was doing support for a local ISP as one of my first jobs in IT – someone searched for Google.com using the Yahoo search field. I nearly fell to the ground. I asked them why they searched for Google.com instead of just typing it into the location bar. They said “What’s the difference?”
I agree with Parish that people aren’t searching for information about Facebook, Youtube, etc. They are, in fact, using search as the location bar. But I disagree that people are doing it as a way to get away from the confusing “dots and slashes”. I’ve seen people type in “.com”. They simply do not know the difference between the search field and the location field.
Think about it. Most modern-day web browsers combine the location and search fields. Safari doesn’t but it only maintains a small marketshare. Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox combine the search and location fields into one field that you can type just about anything in and the browser will figure out what you are looking for. So, are they searching for information about Facebook when they type in Facebook? Or are they simply hitting ‘Enter’ too quickly and they really want to navigate to that URL?
I’m sure extensive user testing would be needed to determine the plethora of habits of people; novice and expert alike. One thing is sure, the browsers should be doing a much better job of taking people to web pages instead of search results in different situations. But, why would they? They make their money on searches too.
“The cornerstone for this update is Gowalla’s new Social Guides. We’ve taken the best of what’s local, the places your friends love, and the recommendations from experts, rolled them all up, and have created the foundation for a collection of Social Guides to cities, parks and regions around the world — ready and at your fingertips with Gowalla.”
I love the idea of traveling to somewhere I’ve never been and being able to easily find places to visit that people – especially my friends/family – have recommended via Gowalla. I look forward to trying this out and seeing how well it works.
Here is the bit I’m not so sure I like:
“We’ve broadened our concept of “checking in” as well. We call them stories now. It’s easy to add friends to a story so you can add photos and comments together as a single experience. Eventually we’ll even bubble up the best stories within our guides, so you can relive all that was great about that film festival you’re going to.”
A check in is a very “thin” experience. There isn’t much to a check in besides; I’m here and so are these people. Everything else on these services revolves around the check in. Gowalla is trying to do something different and enhance that experience to make it more enjoyable and perhaps fun. That’s great. However, I think this is where Gowalla might lose me. I use Foursquare to check in because it is very quick to do so. I switched from Gowalla to Foursquare for this exact reason. And now with “stories” Gowalla seems to be trying to slow this process down even more. So they must be going after a very specific individual that wants to share their experiences with people in certain places, and who are willing to take the time to do that, rather than simply sharing their current location. I’m OK with this but it may not be for me. We’ll see.
I’m happy to see Gowalla going in an entirely different direction then Foursquare. I hope they find their niche and it works for them and for their community. I think we’re still only seeing the tip of the iceberg of the value of these location based services and what they will offer the world still remains to be seen. I look forward to watching it all unfold.
Foursquare is currently winning in the check-in services space but I believe it is still anybody’s game because there is still a lot of work to do.
Even though I “know” people that work at Gowalla and their sense of design is practically unparalleled in the check-in service space – Foursquare simply works better and that is why I use Foursquare instead of Gowalla.
“I’ll be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve used Gowalla (a location-based checkin service you use on your phone). I’ve found that in most of the cities I visit Foursquare has more users, more tips, is faster, easier to check in, etc.” – Robert Scoble
This has been my experience as well. Check-in services need to be very, very fast and valuable in order for the mass market to use them. Typically check-in services aren’t social streams (that you check many times per day) they are utility apps to help you track locations that you visit, the current location of your friends, and – most of all – information about where you are from other people that have been there. When this entire process isn’t very easy and very fast it becomes a hassle to use the services and so I quickly give up on using them.
Foursquare, while far from perfect, is simply lightyears faster than Gowalla currently is. Checking into a location is quick and easy. For the most part, everywhere that I’d like to check-in is already in Foursquare. On Gowalla I had to add nearly every location I visited. This task is tedious on Gowalla. Here is one gripe, as an example: When you search for a location using Gowalla’s iPhone application and it isn’t in their database (which happened for 85% of my check-ins even in places like Atlantic City, NJ) – you can’t tap an “Add location” button. You have to back out of the location search screen and go back into another screen to find the “Add location” button. This became so annoying that I downloaded the Foursquare application and haven’t looked back since.
I have had high hopes for check-in services ever since my days using Brightkite (man I miss those days). Foursquare has legs (and $50M in the bank). I hope these services continue to improve but they’ll need to innovate very, very quick in order for the mass market to adopt them longterm.
The good bits are in woven into the fabric of his piece. Essentially Kyle hopes that geocoding continues to improve and, most importantly, becomes much easier to use. I’ve already said that 2010 is the year of location. Location based services are going to explode this year and any content-publishing service that does not somehow include location in 2010 will probably be left to wallow in the dead pool come next year.
That much time, attention, and resources being thrown at a problem will hopefully mean real progress. We’re going to see a lot of change for good and bad over the next 12 months in this area but at the end of it all, as Kyle mentions, it has to get easier and more accurate.
“Second, does this herald Twitter’s moves into being a location provider? At Sarver’s previous company they had a location-brokering service called MyLoki that never gained ubiquity. Twitter has the opportunity to become a major location broker. Twitter currently has a very simple on/off switch for location. To become a full-fledged consumer location service (like Latitude or Fire Eagle) they will need to build in more controls.”
Forrest’s use of the term “location broker”, I believe, means that Twitter could become a standard for just about anyone to location-enable their own applications rather than simply geocoding tweets. I think Twitter should do this by keeping GeoAPI “open for business” allowing developers to continue to build products using the API, commit data to it, and improve the API over time.
Forrest asks if Twitter will charge for the use of the GeoAPI like it charges for access to Twitter’s public timeline (or firehouse as they call it) to developers. I think they should charge for the use of this API and they should use the same reasonable pricing model that GeoAPI already had in place. No one should have to pay for the data, but they should have to pay for requesting that data hundreds of thousands of times.
In essence, I believe GeoAPI should stick around. It looks like a fantastic API and I’m looking forward to it being implemented into Twitter’s own API but I think it’d be a good idea to have the service stick around separate from Twitter itself.
Update: After reading the post on the GeoAPI blog about the acquisition by Twitter I realized that they are planning, for now at least, to keep GeoAPI up and running. They said: “We will continue to give new API keys for GeoAPI.com – however there may be some delays in getting keys over the holidays.” Good.
The iPhone’s geo-enabled camera, whether you’ve upgraded to an iPhone 3G with built-in GPS or not, now records the location ((A rough latitude and longitude.)) that the photo was taken.
I have a few problems with the way this has been implemented on the iPhone and also how it works on my Macintosh. Â But before I begin bashing Apple – I do want to say that I’m fairly optimistic that other applications will use this feature much better than Apple has.
A few quick notes and then you can watch the video below. Â First, the iPhone asks (though I didn’t manage to capture this on “film”) if you’d like to record the location the photo was taken. Â It doesn’t say why, how, or where to view this information. Â It just asks, you hit ok, and you’re never told about anything ever again. Â Second, the iPhone stores the latitude and longitude inside of the file’s meta-data. There is no way to visualize this information on your iPhone. Â In fact, photos that are geo-encoded look exactly the same on your iPhone as the photos that are not. Â Third, when you import them onto your computer – there is no real way to tell the difference on there either. Â I use Image Capture to import, but I also tested iPhoto, and neither application lets me know that the location was recorded (without a little digging).
Here is a quick video demonstration, and I threw in my opinions for those that don’t like to read, of how the iPhone handles things with the camera now.
So there you have it. Â Yes the iPhone records this information properly. Â But I think the iPhone needs to take advantage of this information in some way to make it valuable to the lay-person, and I also think that iPhoto needs to be updated to support geo-location so that these photos are fun to play with on your computer too.
Anyone know of any iPhone / Macintosh applications that would be fun to play with these photos now?