Loopt's Mix Grows Up; Becomes An iPhone App

At TechCrunch, we’ve always been big fans of mobile social networks, particularly on the iPhone. In fact, Loopt, one of the first location-based iPhone apps and social networks to gain popularity, was offered a feature, called Mix, that acts as a social compass that allows people to connect with and learn about others around them. Mix turned out to be such a popular feature that Loopt is breaking the feature out into its own free iPhone app.

Loopt is basically a social-mapping app that allows you to discover the world around you on your mobile phone. Mix was the part of the app that let you meet new people (who also have the app) nearby. You see a list of people, profiles/interests, their latest status, ranked by their approximate distance to you and can message the people who you find compelling. While Mix can be used for any type of connection with users, Loopt’s co-founder and CEO Sam Altman says the feature is primarily used for dating and love connections.

The new app, called “Loopt Mix,” has much of the same functionality as the feature integrated with the Loopt app, including the ability to browse profiles of people near you, to post photos and status updates about yourself and to message people around you. The app lets you use “likes,” similar to Facebook, to indicate your preference for someone; status update, and also includes the ability to filter search within the app. And Mix now includes real-time, in-app chat with push notifications.

Altman tells us that location-based dating apps are the future of mobile networking and believes that Mix is doing this better and more efficiently than the competition, which includes Match.com’s iPhone app. And of course, Mix and Loopt both face competition from Foursquare, which has a slightly different take on location-based social graphing. On a separate note, Altman also told me the next version of Loopt’s app will include e-commerce within the app, thanks to Apple’s recent allowance for in-app commerce for free apps.

Loopt also recently introduced a new technology for background location on the iPhone which could be a huge win for the startup.

Disclosure: Loopt offers a TechCrunch branded version of the app.