Just in time to be one of the first app installs on my freshly arrived iPhone 4S, there comes a new location-based mobile app called Roamz (iTunes link), which will have its official debut on Monday at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. As hinted at by the name, the app wants to help you discover the world around you as you “roam” around town.
To do so, Roamz digs into social signals from services like Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and Instagram in order to find out what people in your area are buzzing about right now. It then presents those results to you in a stream which you can filter by interest.
After installing the app, you can optionally choose to connect Roamz Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, so it can provide better, more personalized recommendations. It looks at your own social signals, like your check-ins, your friends’ check-ins, and your shared likes and interests, including those you indicate within the app itself using the included thumbs up and thumbs down buttons provided on the listings.
Then, on the main screen, there is a series of toggles that let you filter what sort of information you’ll see, broken down into “interests” like Shopping, Events & Entertainment, Restaurants, Children, Pets and much more. By switching these toggles off or on, you can better filter the results of the activity trending near your location.
The result, ideally, is that you don’t have to be constantly checking your social networks to find out what’s going on, what’s popular or where your friends are checking into right now. “There’s so much social data being shared,” explains Roamz CEO and Founder Jonathan Barouch, “but if you’re not following the right people at the right time, you may be missing out.”
Barouch admits that the venue categorization is not complete for all areas yet – only major metro regions. That’s why, for example, the results for somewhere like San Francisco or New York appear to be much better filtered than those I’m seeing for my own city (sunny Tampa, Florida). For smaller areas like this, only about 50% of the venues have been categorized. But, like they say, you’ve got to launch sometime.
In the future, Roamz plans to deliver its recommendations through iOS5′s new push notifications and may even integrate with Siri (e.g. “Siri, does Roamz recommend any museums around here?”) Further down the road, brands may be able to tap into these push notifications to send out highly personalized messages to users, which I like to imagine would go something like this: “Welcome back to Starbucks, Sarah. Enjoy this coupon for $0.25 off that latte you’re about to order.” But then again, maybe I’ve just been hanging out with Siri too much today.
Still, serendipitous discovery of the world around you? That’s the app I was waiting for. Roamz is in the very early stages of development, so it can’t fully deliver on that promise just yet. But it’s certainly one to watch.
Australian-based Roamz raised $3.5 million in Series A financing in January 2010 from media company Salmat. Barouch himself was previously the founder of Fastflowers.com.au, one of Australia’s largest floral chains.