Brightkite has been one of the major players in the location-based social networking game for a while now. Originally a TechStars startup, the company was bought in April by Limbo, with the goal of merging the two location services. Since that time however, Brightkite has been flying a bit under the radar as a fresh crop of location-based services have popped up including the new early-adopter favorite, Foursquare. But now Brightkite looks ready to strike back at the competition with Brightkite 2.0.
It’s not entirely clear when Brightkite 2.0 will launch, but indications are that it will be soon. Users have been receiving notices about it. We’ve obtained a whole bunch of screenshots purported to be of the new version. We’ve reached out to the company to verify these, but they definitely look legitimate.
So what’s new? The first thing you’ll notice is that the whole look and feel of the site has been revamped. Gone is a lot of the clutter that distracts from the main location feed. This has been replaced by a revamped top toolbar, and a new bottom toolbar (think: Facebook).
Filters are a key part of Brightkite now. Rather than having three different main streams (Me & My Friends, Around Me, Universe), there is now one with a few different filters. There are also new filters to sort through people using the service by factors like location, sex, and age.
Checking-in has been simplified, as has adding a new place. And Brightkite 2.0 promises simplified privacy settings so you can more easily set where to send you updates (to the public, or just your friends — to Twitter and/or Facebook).
Also new is the ability to “like” other people’s updates. Obviously, this is similar to the functionality found on FriendFeed and Facebook.
But the biggest change to Brightkite is that it is going asynchronous. That is to say, rather than forcing you to accept a friend request to enable other people to see you updates, those people can now simply follow you without any confirmation needed, like on Twitter. They will become your “Fans” while people you also follow back are your “Friends”.
This is an interesting move since Brightkite is a location-based service, and privacy remains the main issue for why all services, like Facebook, don’t switch to this model.
Below, find more screenshots.