In the last few months we’ve seen the rise of location-based mobile networking the likes of which some people envisioned a while ago but few executed on. And the executions are patchy but often interesting. Banjo aggregates geo-tagged information from other services like 4sq, Twitter etc. Sonar uses your 4sq checkin and looks at social ties on other platforms. Circle alerts you when friends are nearby. Trover lets you share photos of cool discoveries. Highlight allows users to broadcast their profile wherever they go. Then there are professional event networking apps like Mingle, Bizaboo and Schmooze.
So far we’ve seen apps which let you converse around a location randomly with stranger, like flirting app Badoo. Sometimes that hasn’t ended well. What’s required is something which is vague about location (“close by” is good enough), has real people and provides open conversations to prevent abuse. Something like a location-based bulletin board. Mixer, on iOS, might just be that app [download it here].
Mixer is a new social mobile application for iPhone that lets you converse with people on a location. You log in via Facebook authentication (preventing aliases and scammers) and can start a threaded discussion linked to your general location. Users can post text and photos to the local feed and others can comment. Via a nice visual interface you can zoom out from your locality to join conversations far away or zoom back in to your neighbourhood.
But when you leave a location where a conversation happened you can continue to converse with those people. Meanwhile, those original conversations are linked to a location, so that any new people hitting that location can see what was said before when they open up the app.
Thus, you can discover who was in a place. However, people are automatically removed from local ‘mixes’ after a period of inactivity in an area.
There is no friending of people – which will be a relief to some – but you can ‘subscribe’ to a user’s posts. You can view profiles including the photo and bios and all posts made by that user.
A feed view enables users to view conversations locally, in timeline format. The ‘Mix’ view allows users to browse the profiles of people currently and recently nearby.
Safety-wise, Mixer encourages open conversations, that can be viewed by everyone. This, plus the Facebook log-in should prevent some of the craziness that happens on some location-based networks. The service is entirely opt-in, meaning only people who have signed up to the service are displayed within the app, with no data being scraped from third party services. Additionally, only generalised user locations are shown and you can’t direct message users.
Founded by Chris Connell, Chris Tingley and Jules Bastrup, Connell tells me: “We’re disconnected from people around us. I live in London and know no-one where I live. I wanted to connect with my location without having to break into private groups or do private messaging.” This will sound familiar to many.
Some features could be added: It’s missing a better map. And more integration with Facebook sharing might create a better viral loop. But it’s a promising start.
Perhaps in the future this could be a location-based Craigslist? For now it’s an interesting app worth a try out.
Mixer is due to present in the Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt, San Francisco, next week.
Let us know what you think in the comments.