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May 09, 2011

Location Trend is Early, But Believed to be Fundamental

By Gary Kim, Contributing Editor

For some observers, location based services are hype. For others, location will be a fundamental building block for applications created over the next decade or so. Some would reconcile those two points of view by pointing out that location is a new development that will take some time to mature, as do other key software trends. 

Up to this point, location mostly has been associated with “check-in” features that allow a user to share his or her present location with friends and associates. More recently, there has been development around the ability to use location to create a platform for “deals and offers” made available to mobile users. 

But we likely are only at the beginning of the process of creating location-aware applications. 

“Tasker,” for example, is an Android (News - Alert) application that uses location context to trigger modifications of a user's experience. A mobile device might use the app to automatically raise ringer volume at the office, or enter “silent” mode. 

A device might turn off 4G or 3G service and switch to Wi-Fi access, automatically, at home. A device might be programmed to turn off the keyguard when a user is at home, or increase volume at known noisy locations. 

Home settings for applications, icons or wallpapers might shift based on location. 

In commercial settings, location could trigger any number of applications that are designed to be used only when a person is shopping at a particular store. 

The point is that we are very early in re-designing applications and devices to incorporate user location as a key contextual element. When PCs first were introduced, the lead application was the spreadsheet. 

Only later did additional applications such as word processing and game console support provide additional use cases. 

But it takes time for applications and behavior to catch up to platforms. Location won't be different. 

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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