The geolocation wars are well underway. If you need any proof of that, simply look at this thread in Quora. A startup posted a question wondering which place database they should use for their new check-in app. The responses? Foursquare: Us. Gowalla: Us. SimpleGeo: Us. Factual: Us. Locationary: Us.
Each of these companies, along with a few other big ones not practicing the art of self-promotion on Quora (Google, Facebook, Skyhook) are all in the midst of what is sure to be a drawn-out battle to become the underlying location layer that lets a thousand other startups bloom on top of it.
For the past several months, it seems as if Foursquare has been doing really well in this regard. Several other hot startups (like Instagram and Foodspotting) are actually using Foursquare’s Place database as a key component of their app. But then came Facebook Places. Now startups seem to be rushing to implement that so they can leverage the social network’s 400 million plus users and ability to scale. But Foursquare isn’t sitting there quietly watching this happen.
As Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai revealed in his answer on the Quora thread, the company is currently alpha testing a second version of their API. While it hasn’t yet launched publicly, Selvadurai notes that you can email their team to get access to it.
So what’s new in the latest version? I asked co-founder Dennis Crowley and he said that it’s a complete re-write of the initial API. It’s now 1,000 times faster and more flexible, he says. He also notes that it foreshadows some new features that are upcoming and has tighter integration with things like specials. The Google Group for the API has a bit more about what to expect with v2.