Schmap, Inc., creators of the iPhone-friendly Schmap city guides and Schmap.me map sharing service, further expanded their iPhone offerings this morning with the launch of their new “GeoTweeter” iPhone application. GeoTweeter plays on the common practice of using Twitter to inform your followers of your current location, with one neat little twist: it shows them how to get there.
Think about it – how often do you see folks using Twitter to invite their friends out en masse? Generally, it’s something like “I’m at McBlahdigan’s Pub! Come join!”. But which McBlahdigans’s do they mean ? The one on First St., or that shady one over on.. wait, where’s that other one again? Now you’re tearing through Google Maps looking for a pub, writing down the address, calling your friend to make sure you’re headed to the right place – it’s all very archaic.
GeoTweeter is looking to take away all of those extra steps. When a user is ready to have their friends join them for a night on the town (or for whatever other reason they may want to broadcast their exact location via Twitter), they pop open GeoTweeter, blast out their tweet, and fire away. GeoTweet will create a schmap.me map (example) pointing at your current GPS location (or any other location you choose) and strap the URL onto the tail end of your tweet. These maps are viewable from just about any browser, with special optimizations for BlackBerry, Nokia, Palm, Sony Ericsson, and the iPhone. On some of these platforms, tapping the address on the page will automatically launch the handset’s built-in mapping software, allowing you to navigate to the location without copy and paste or, worse yet, paper and pen. You can also store your regular locations for later use – you know, just in case McBlahdigan’s becomes your regular spot.
Schmap always impresses me with their ingenuity, and this time is no different. They’ve come up with a way to improve a common Twitter practice in a way that doesn’t seem tacked on, whilst increasing the use of and building upon their Schmap.me service.
I was initially a bit bugged that the application only supported outbound tweets; there’s no way of viewing tweets whatsoever, so you’ll still need another Twitter application on your iPhone for general use. After a while, however, this made sense – you don’t always want to be broadcasting your location with every tweet, so you won’t be using GeoTweeter every time anyways. While they could just throw in a basic no-location mode and strap on support for tweet viewing, direct messaging, and everything else that Twitter does, they’d be taking away from the primary focus and entering themselves into competition with a number of outstanding clients which have had quite the head start. What I’d like to see, however, is Schmap working with the developers of these applications to get Schmap.me functionality into their own applications, with GeoTweeter serving as the proof of concept.
My only lingering gripe is a trivial one: there’s no character counter to let you know how much leeway you’ve got before you run out of Tweet space. The URL takes up 23 of your 140 characters (that part’s unavoidable, so no fault there), so you’ve got a bit less space than you’d otherwise be used to. The input box won’t let you go past the limit (now set at 117), but it’s nice to have that counter there for the sake of planning ahead.
In the not-too-distant future, location broadcasting services along the lines of Google Latitude, Loopt, and Whrrl might nullify the need for things like this. However, none of those services have yet to see widespread adoption, and are greatly hindered by each others existence. Until one clear winner is determined and made available across all popular mobile platforms, solutions like this one that broadcast your location in a browser-friendly (and thus cross platform and easily accessed) manner onto an already popular network will have to do.
GeoTweeter [iTunes Link] is free and available today.