Have you ever been in a public place and wondered what or who is around you? With the way technology is rapidly changing, it’s now possible to get this information on your phone almost instantly, thanks to GPS-based applications.
GPS-based apps can include many different features and can be used for numerous activities. They’re not specifically for finding location. Some applications, such as the Geocaching app, are used for entertainment and interactive purposes as well.
According to the Geocaching website, the app is essentially a “real world outdoor treasure hunting game” that allows users to locate hidden containers using satellite-based technology. The hidden containers are called geocaches, and they are left behind by other players and documented through GPS-enabled devices, such as smartphones. Players can then share their experiences after their geocaches are left behind for other users to pick up. More GPS-based apps are incorporating social media-type features to make the apps more appealing.
A recently improved smartphone application known as Foursquare has become popular among people engaged in social media. The app is essentially a log book of nearly every location around you. Users“check in”to these places and can leave reviews about them, as well as see other users’ profiles that are checked in there. Foursquare takes on a different perspective and turns the social networking concept into a game by rewarding points to the users for checking in to different places. The app also awards “badges” for different variations in the players’ traveling patterns. Users can then compete with their friends, creating a game among them. One of the most popular features of Foursquare is the discounts that are “unlocked” by checking in at those places.
One of the most exciting features that Foursquare offers is the ability to allow users to share their “location tags” on Facebook and Twitter, so users’ friends can instantly know where they are. Restaurants often offer Foursquare users free food, such as appetizers or even small dinner entrees. Users can even post their own pictures of their current location, and the app gives players the option to leave reviews for other users to read. “I use Foursquare to check in and get all kinds of discounts at the common restaurants that I go to,” senior Tom Pagut said. “A free app that basically gives you free food, why not?”
Another GPS-based application is Google Maps, which acts as a global positioning system. It helps users find where they are or where they want to go. “Google Maps is a great app that gives me directions at almost any given place or time,” senior Samantha Redles said. “I use it for directions or if I were to get lost, Google Maps is the app that I use.” Google Maps features many different elements that are essential to guiding the user by giving them turn-by-turn directions and even 3D maps for driving, transit, biking or even walking directions.
GPS-based applications are becoming increasingly popular among students around the Elizabethtown College campus. Students are using apps like these for guidance as well as a source of entertainment. The Geocaching app can definitely provide students with a sense of gratification by relieving stress and also by incorporating some amusement into their busy lives. Foursquare can give students a rewarding and interactive distraction by making things more affordable — not one college student can complain about that!
But with the extensive use of social networking in today’s society, it’s no surprise that applications such as Facebook and Twitter for smartphones are incorporating location-based features that can let friends and even family know your whereabouts. The apps include location “tags” that allow users to display pictures or descriptions about their specific location. Features like this are engaging the collegiate crowd. Students have started absorbing the basics of social networking that are helping them get connected in many ways.
More visually-focused apps include photo-sharing capabilities. One app in particular is rising up the popularity chart that just might be the next generation in mobile social networking. The application known as Instagram is a location-based app which was the first to allow users to finally take pictures with their smartphones and instantly upload them to their internet profile. Features like this can let users to share their current locations instantly with their friends and family. The app also allows users to share their location with friends on Facebook and Twitter, just like the Foursquare application.
“I love using Instagram. It’s definitely a suitable picture app that makes uploading pictures instantly very easy,” junior Alexa Masano said.
GPS-based applications will not usually work without a GPS device. The more mobile the GPS-based app is, the more useful it will be to the user. People who are engaged in social networking can present their friends with a more entertaining experience by relating to the specific location. At the rate college students run around, there’s no doubt that all of us could use a little rewarding every now and then.