Every year or two we seem to see an internet trend spike really fast; Facebook a few years back, “microblogging” in the 2006/2007 era, and now it seems like Apple is stepping into the ring with the latest: location-based social networking. Made popular by websites like Foursquare and Gowalla, the trend has been overtaking smartphones including the iPhone, and appears to be creating an effective link between the virtual world of social networks and the real world where people do things like eat lunch together or shop (or so I hear). Apple is now grabbing up some patents which suggest that they could combine MobileMe with GPS-style features and even a walkie-talkie type of communication option which lets you connect to your friends’ iPhones if they’re nearby. It brings to mind a story not long about how Apple was grabbing up some mapping technology which made people speculate about their potentially taking on Google Maps. Perhaps they were gearing up for this instead?
Apple’s working on a new social location app called iGroups [TheNextWeb.com]