Video Interview: GeoAPI Puts Apps in Their Place

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Pretty soon you’ll think an app (especially a mobile app) is dumb if it doesn’t know exactly where you are. And GeoAPI hopes that it will be the service to make those apps smart, by translating users’ latitude and longitude into intersections, businesses and neighborhoods.

GeoAPI, like its competitor SimpleGeo, started out trying to do something location-aware (in this case, hyper-local wikis), then shifted to offer location tools after realizing that the infrastructure it was building would be useful for other companies. The San Mateo, Calif.-based company (formal name Mixer Labs) is comprised almost entirely of former Google (s GOOG) employees; co-founders Elad Gil and Othman Laraki were product managers for Google Mobile Maps, Google Toolbar, Google Gears and the company’s FastNet real-time caching and fetching infrastructure.

I stopped by and visited Gil and Leraki this week and heard more about their plans. At this point there’s not too much in the way of apps to show off, since the API has been available for less than a month. What GeoAPI does have is a database of 16 million businesses and points of interest based on three data licenses and other open data sets. Today it’s adding the ability to annotate businesses — so people could build augmented reality apps — and layers to query the weather, YouTube and Foursquare. That’s how the seven-person company expects to compete with heavyweights like Google — by making those layers flexible and editable. It offers 20,000 queries per day for free, 100,000 more for $3 a day, and promises super speedy response times (sub-50 milliseconds).

In the video above (also viewable here), Gil tells GigaOM his theory of the four core types of location services: broadcast, context, geo-tagging and search. He said GeoAPI thinks the first two are the most interesting. As for the location of the video? It’s from the beautiful (but on Monday, chilly) Central Park of San Mateo,.

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Liz Coker

Why stop at location? A REALLY smart mobile app will know not only where you are, but also who you are and what device you are on (with the user’s permission, of course). When it’s delivered via a Web services model, a single Web app is created that can be dynamically optimized for each mobile device. Browser-based navigation can be personalized for each and every mobile user – something a device-resident mobile app cannot do. The technology to do all of this is available today and its just going to get better. What GeoAPI and SimpleGEO are doing is just one small peak into what is coming for mobile. Hold on for an exciting ride!

Liz Coker

We have mobile SaaS/Web Service enabling software that gets the who, what & where data (that companies like SimpleGeo & GeoAPI can use) from the device and sends it via the browser to a Web server for use in any Web app. We also make it possible to dynamically customize browser menus. This shifts navigation to a menu format (like an mobile app) so there’s more room for content on the mobile screen. We’ve got a free trial if anyone wants to check it out – standard Web programming knowledge is required to hook it to a Web service. We integrate into each company/content providers’ service and like GeoAPI & SimpleGeo, are transparent to the consumer.

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