The App Market and Location-Based Services

In Computer Weekly’s article “Apple iPad App Pushes the Location-Based Cloud”, author Adrian Bridgwater discusses how location-based service technology is currently being used in apps for Apple devices. In particular, he discusses how these technologies relate to the increasing prevalence of cloud computing-based resources and devices. Additionally, he discusses to main types of location-based services: “push” LBS, “pull” (also known as “query”) LBS, and a multi-user LBS service, which is the article’s primary focus.

Specifically, Bridgwater explores the benefits and potential pitfalls of an app called Find My Friends. Find My Friends allows users to view each other’s current locations using their iCloud Apple accounts. Additionally, the app can be used in more specific situations; rather than broadcasting one’s location to one’s friends at all times, Find My Friends allows users to “share [their] location with a group of friends for a limited time”. It can be used to monitor when others leave or arrive at a certain location, and can also distribute that information to one’s own contacts.

While Find My Friends certainly has great potential benefit for users, it also presents a new opportunity for developers to create “a new breed of apps that allows us to interact with each other based on where we are [and] what we’re doing”. However, such possibilities do come with potential privacy concerns. As location-based sharing requires the permission of each user to be fully utilized, individuals’ particular privacy settings could affect the efficacy of LBS-reliant applications. Nevertheless, the increased prevalence of cloud and LBS applications identifies an area of great potential within the apps market.