From Loopt to FourSquare, it seems like every mobile-focused startup these days wants to hop on board the location-based application train. Aloqa launched an iPhone version of its free Android and BlackBerry application last week (the startup’s CEO, Sanjeev Agrawal, spoke during a panel at our recent Mobilize conference).
Like Geodelic, Aloqa helps you find nearby points of interest — what it calls “channels” — that you can customize according to your preferences. For example, if you’d rather get a cup of coffee from Peet’s than from Starbucks or another cafe, you can subscribe to the Peet’s channel. You’re then a tap away from pulling up a map that will guide to the store location you want to visit.
After trying out Aloqa for a week, I think it’s a solid LBS app but wish that its channels included more drilled-down points of interest. We recently moved our office to the SOMA neighborhood, an area of San Francisco with which I’m still not terribly familiar. I struggled to find a place to grab a quick salad for lunch using Aloqa and wound up using my Google Maps application instead.
While Aloqa has a channel that lists nearby Yelp-reviewed restaurants, none of them offered the type of food I was looking for and none of them did takeout. (I admittedly had not looked at the fast food channel). What Aloqa did help me find was a nearby ATM for my bank and a Starbucks store closer to the one I was originally going to, which are definite pluses. There’s also a channel that notifies you when one of your Facebook friends is nearby, but only one of my friends has installed Aloqa on their phone so this hasn’t proven to be a helpful feature.
Aloqa just launched this summer, so there’s still room for improvement; hopefully we’ll soon see channels on it that point to more disaggregated points of interest. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup received $1.5 million in Series A funding this July from Wellington Partners and angel investors.