Fwix's Regional News Feeds Come To The iPhone

Fwix, a social news site that skims through dozens of web services to generate a ‘News Feed’ for your city, has just released its free iPhone application (iTunes Link).

The application revolves around your ‘City Feed’, which offers an automated list of stories pulled from sources including local newspapers, blogs, and Yelp, to help users quickly find the most up-to-date news relevant to their region. Stories range from the hottest restaurant reviews and concerts to recent crime reports in the area, and are generally fairly relevant to your current location (though stories that seem pretty random do occasionally pop up). These feeds are also available on Fwix’s homepage, which launched last summer.

The application also brings a few entirely new features to the Fwix service. The first is the introduction of location-based checkins with friends (called ‘Neighbors’ by the app). The inclusion of the feature seems a bit odd at first – Fwix didn’t launch as a social network, and there a number of other services like Loopt and Brightkite that already have a huge head start in this space.

But founder Darian Shirazi says that Fwix still isn’t meant to act as a social network, explaining that these social connections are primarily meant to help friends share stories they find interesting with each other. He also says that Fwix (which probably would have a hard time competing as a stand-alone location based network), is planning to integrate with Yahoo’s Fire Eagle, which means users will be able to update their location on Fwix using other services.

It’s not quite there yet, but the app’s most potentially useful feature is its heat map, which presents a visual representation of the most active areas in your city. An area’s ‘hotness’ is determined by the number of status messages, news stories, and other activity that has occurred in a region within the last few hours. It’s a great idea and it looks nice, but in its current form it’s not very useful because there’s no way to actually see which stories have made an area ‘hot’ (Shirazi says this feature will be included in the next release).