Here at TechCrunch we’re big believers in mobile social networks. In February I wrote about how the iPhone is the perfect ecosystem to have it’s own social network (awesome device and software, location aware, elitist users). And in April I showed a teaser of an upcoming social network from Loopt that did everything I had asked for: iPhone only to start, location aware so that you could meet new people around you.
Loopt has now launched all of those features, and they’ve built a special version of the service just for TechCrunch. Once you’ve added the application to your iPhone you can see where your friends are and what they are up to. And you can also meet TechCrunch Loopt members who are near you even if they aren’t your friend yet.
Sign up here, or do a search for LooptTC on iTunes (links to iTunes apps currently don’t work).
The meet feature is called Mix and is shown in the video below. Once you turn it on it will show you other users who are around you, and some basic information about them. You can message those users (and you can also block anyone who’s being annoying).
This will really come in handy at TechCrunch meetups and events. The network will show you which of your friends are nearby if you are having trouble finding them. And as you meet new people you can see a little bit about them on your phone (picture, name, where they work, etc.). If you connect, you can add them as a friend.
The application will show you other users who are nearby (up to 15 miles away). And we’ve added one special feature as well – all users will see my profile and location wherever I am in the world, even if its on the other side of the world. Right now, for example, I’m in Anacortes, WA hanging out at my parents home.
If you are already a Loopt member, you can still join the TechCrunch network in the Mix settings.
To date the big social networks have ignored location awareness on mobile devices, probably over privacy concerns, which I believe is their Achilles Heel. Look for that to change as this new crop of mobile social networks gets traction.
Disclosure: Just to be 100% clear, this should be considered a sponsorship and will be noted in future Loopt coverage.