Location-based services have been hampered by the balkanization of carrier networks and a focus on mobile-only implementations. LocPoke, a new Facebook application, is a promising alternative.
I’ve written before about WHERE, a location service platform that has offered GPS-based location status updates for Twitter using a downloadable application. The application is available for Sprint and Alltel phones for a monthly fee.
WHERE’s LocPoke, allows you to show a map of your location on your Facebook profile. This application addresses many of the key barriers to adoption of the Where platform: it works on any network, it works on any phone, it doesn’t require a download and it’s free (except for SMS charges). Just text your location to the SMS shortcode WHERE (94373) to update your location. The location can be set as a street address, ZIP code, city or neighborhood.
You can also text a phone number to identify your location. If you’re having dinner at Azie, you can text “dinner@4155380918” and the map will show the name and address of Azie. This method is too cumbersome to get wide adoption, but it points to a future where we’ll be sending actionable data instead of freeform text.
Friends can also prompt you to update your location. A friend clicking on the “LocPoke” button triggers an SMS prompting you to update your location. This capability can be limited to friends that you select. I’d like to see the option to click on the location to get driving directions.
The Social Map feature allows you to see where your friends are. It’s of limited use until LocPoke takes off.