#location

In my mind, Foursquare history remains one of the most interesting features of the service. It knows basically everywhere I’ve been since 2009 (actually, 2008 thanks to some imported Dodgeball data). To some, that’s creepy — to me, that’s awesome.

Recommendations are the obvious use case for past data. But as we’re seeing with services ranging from Facebook Timeline to Timehop, don’t underestimate the power of nostalgia. 

A few years ago, this would have been interesting. But now it just looks foolish. It looks like a company that’s so embarrassed about how late they are to the dance that they snuck in the backdoor and refuse to talk to anyone let alone dance with anyone. 

Google made a big bet on background location with Latitude, but they were far too early. By the time they realized this and pivoted towards the check-in, it was too late. Now things are finally starting to shift towards background location and Google is going the wrong way.

How does Facebook keep pace in mobile with the built-for-mobile and insanely well-designed Path? Here’s one piece. 

Assuming this deal is finalized — great scoop by Laurie Segall — I’m really happy for the Gowalla team. They were putting an emphasis on design and attention to detail in the mobile space well before it was the cool thing to do. And they stayed true to their roots and did it all from Austin, Texas.

Google should have scooped them up way before Facebook could. But well… Yeah. 

Related: Facebook has a lot of fucking awesome design talent at their disposal now.

Update 12/5: The deal has been finalized.

"Greater Choice"

Late last night, I linked to a blog post Google put up and jotted down some initial thoughts. Given the response (thousands of views, 100+ notes, etc.), I thought it was only fair that I elaborate a bit.

Google’s post is entitled “Greater choice for wireless access point owners”. It outlines new opt-out functionality for Google’s location database. I ripped into the post — as did several others — not so much because of the feature itself, but because the post is misguided and disingenuous. In my view, it is probably the worst post Google has ever put on their blog. And that’s saying something. 

First of all, this is a post that should not have been written — at least not in the way that it was. Google is building their location database using WiFi hotspots, likely including yours if you broadcast your SSID (your router’s name). Apple does the same thing. So does Skyhook (which is suing Google for ditching their location database to build their own). So do others. It’s a good idea. And it makes locations services much better.

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Also: it took Apple just a week to deploy this update to all iPhone users, while Android makers are still shipping 2.2, and WP7 is a mess.

Twitter / @nilay patel

Yep. Apple needed to get an update out there fast to resolve the issue. Total time to develop and push to all users? One week.

Can you imagine what that would have been like on Android? Six months from now, the majority of users still probably wouldn’t have the update.