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Location-based apps for iPhone and Android users

by Kristen Nicole

With smart phones now enabled with GPS, several iPhone and Android apps have arisen to make good use of knowing your location.  As the acceptance toward sharing one’s location rises, many social and contextual Android and iPhone apps are emerging. 

The biggest benefit of these apps is that they help you make sense of your surroundings.  Whether you are looking for a nearby restaurant recommended by your Facebook friends, or hoping to avoid an upcoming speed trap, there is an app for that.

Here are some iPhone and Android apps that make good use of your exact location.

Location-Based Games

Free for iPhone and Android users, the FourSquare app helps you explore cities and keep up with friends' locale.  FourSquare makes things fun by awarding points for visiting new places and writing reviews. Show your city savvy, meet up with nearby friends and boast badges showing your accomplishments with this location-based, social networking app.

Connected to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, the Gowalla app makes your whereabouts a social affair.  Free for iPhone and Android users, Gowalla is a search-and-discovery tool to find nearby venues for eating and entertainment as well.  Track trips, share them with friends, and earn points to see how quickly your Gowalla passport fills.

MyTown turns visiting cities into a real-world game.  This free iPhone app lets you earn points for checking in at a physical location.  The real fun comes in once you start buying and selling MyTown game versions of real-life locations. Keep your value up so you can charge higher rent, top the leader boards and get cute outfits for your MyTown avatar.

Apps for Social Awareness

As a search-and-discovery tool, Loopt can offer recommendations on nearby places to check out. You can read and write reviews, and share photos in real time. The free app for iPhone and Android users also lets you connect with friends in the vicinity, giving you the option to schedule an impromptu meeting or even meet at a local event.

Tweetabouts for Android (free) will automatically update the location listed on your Twitter profile based on your GPS location.  You can update your profile as well as your status. Several settings options allow you to determine auto-posting behavior and the amount of detail included in your location updates. There is also a manual mode to ensure your privacy standards are met.

Combining location-awareness with microblogging is the goal of Whrrl. The free iPhone app makes it easy to create a blog while on the go, incorporating all the devices of your phone in order to do so.  Upload photos and videos, update your status and share entries with others. Get friends to contribute to your posts for a social take on a single event.

Contextually Aware Apps

Aloqa brings you location-based recommendations of your surroundings in real time. Free for iPhone and Android users, the Aloqa app offers custom channels for various categories which pertain to your GPS-location. Filter by your favorite restaurant chain, or access Yelp! recommendations with one click.  Read and write reviews, view location details and get directions.

With a carousel interface, the free Sherpa Android app literally shows you what your surroundings are.  Filter locations by category, ranging from quick bites to ATMs, or do a keyword search. Multiple viewing options allow you to pick the easiest format in which to see your results. Get details, reviews and directions to each destination with the help of Google Maps.

Avoid speeding tickets with the free Trapster app, available for iPhones and Android users.  Based on your location, Trapster will alert you to radar hideout spots and red light cameras as you approach them.  Mark speed traps you come across as well, so other Trapster users can be forewarned during their travels.

Sometimes, location-based mobile apps are most useful when you are in a new town. Hear Planet will give you audio tours of several popular destinations around the globe, giving you some history and insight to your surroundings. Free for iPhone users, this travel app has geo-location features which give you added context to your immediate environment.

Discover more Curated Android Apps and Curated iPhone Apps handpicked by users like you.