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 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,.