Contextual Discovery: The Next Generation of Location-Based Services

MAY 13, 2010
This post is part of the Who's @ Google I/O, a series of blog posts that give a closer look at developers who'll be speaking or demoing at Google I/O. This guest post is written by Aloqa’s Head of Client Development Matthias Schicker who will be demoing as part of the Developer Sandbox.

In the last few years, the mobile industry has overcome several infrastructure hurdles that location-based services (LBS) have historically faced -- cheap, small GPS receivers have become ubiquitous, CellID / Wifi positioning has become available on platforms like Android and iPhone, and some carriers have even started to make location information available. Not surprisingly, a wave of LBSs has been unleashed in the market. Yet LBS has still not lived up to its much vaunted promise.

The reason, we believe, is that most location services are still "reactive" -- they treat the phone like a PC. The user is required to launch an application that returns information based on the user's location. While these "finder" services are certainly useful, with Aloqa, we believe we are striking at the core of three things that are fundamentally wrong with mobile LBS today:

1. Mobile phones shouldn't have to be used as browsers. A phone is an interrupt-based device that is intended to alert you - ring when someone calls or buzz when an SMS comes in. It should "proactively notify" you, as obtrusively or unobtrusively as you'd like, of content, people, and places in your surroundings. So you never miss an opportunity to socialize, play, work, shop, watch a show, or just grab a coffee with a friend.

2. Location is only one part of a user's current "context". Historically, "location" has been used a little too simplistically by mobile apps. The canonical LBS example is to walk by a Starbucks and get a coupon sent to your phone. Even ignoring the fact that Starbucks doesn't even have coupons, if all we got all day from mobile apps is aggressive ads of various kinds, of course we would hate "LBS" too.

Location is just one component of a user's context. Who the user is, what they like, the time of day, their social graph - these are all important inputs to context as well. Your phone can be trained in a much smarter way to know you and therefore is a perfect device to give you "Context Based Services".

3. Point applications are good but it's getting beaten to death by a thousand apps. Restaurants, toilets, bars, music, events, even friend finders - why have separate apps for them? This information should just be available to users at their fingertips and at once, and without having to launch individual applications and type into them.

Aloqa is a mobile service that proactively notifies you of a variety of interesting opportunities around you: places, events, bargains, friends and activities. A kind of universal "context based inbox" for all the world's location relevant content and services.

If you have an Android phone, you can download Aloqa through the Android Market or scan this QR code to the left. To try our dev tools, go to We’d love to hear your feedback, and if you’re going to I/O, be sure to stop by the Developer Sandbox to see our demo!

posted by Matthias Schicker, Head of Client Development at Aloqa