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Avo Reid

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Radar for Friends and Family

March 26, 2008

Have you ever wanted to know where your friends or members of your family were but couldn't get in touch with them to ask?  Now there's a solution that runs on your mobile handset. Loopt, a Silicon Valley based startup that has built a social mapping service that uses location-based technologies to keep you constantly up-to-date on where your friends are by automatically updating maps on your mobile handset. "The most common mobile question in the world is ‘Where are you?' and we're excited that Loopt will be able to answer that question for Sprint customers who choose to participate," said Loopt Chief Executive Officer and co-founder, Sam Altman. "The way we communicate on the mobile phone is about to change forever, as loopt on Sprint puts an end to missed connections and facilitates real-world interactions." Loopt lets you send messages to nearby friends and can also alert you when friends are nearby so you can take advantage of the opportunity to meet.

Loopt is currently only available on select networks and handsets and only works in the continental US and Hawaii, so if you have a an friend in Alaska you're out of luck. Loopt has been available on select handsets of Sprint subsidiary Boost Mobile since late last year. Sprint will soon begin offering the application for $2.99 a month on more than 25 phones. Verizon Wireless customers will be able to purchase Loopt beginning in April for $3.99 monthly access available on more than 20 popular phones.

The Loopt service is 100% opt in and each user's network of friends is private, no one outside the private network has access.  The service uses GPS and can automatically update the location of everyone in a user's network that has automatic location update set to on.  Users can easily stop and start automatic update of their locations or select to manually update their location. When a user is out of GPS satellite line of sight the service will default the user's location to the nearest network cell tower, which can drop accuracy to a mile or so, until a GPS location can be acquired.

For parents of young children this can be a welcome service. Being able to see the location of your child at anytime is certainly a service I would pay for. 


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