Twitter Doubling Down With Geo APIs

Adam DuVander, December 31st, 2009

TwitterIf you are as optimistic as we were about Twitter’s location features, you should be downright giddy now. Twitter has acquired the company–and staff–behind one of the most innovative mapping-related APIs. Mixer Labs’ GeoAPI , previously known as TownMe, hosts your geographic data and allows spatial queries such as “find the closest location” (for more see our earlier TownMe news coverage and our TownMe API profile).

Twitter founder Evan Williams announced the acquisition:

The Mixer Labs crew has been working on harnessing the power of local information for a couple years and just recently launched GeoAPI, a comprehensive service for helping developers build geolocation-aware applications. As of today, they’re part of Twitter and will be working to combine the contextual relevance of location to tweets. We want to know What’s happening?, and more precisely, Where is it happening? As a dramatic example, twittering “Earthquake!” alone is not as informative as “Earthquake!” coupled with your current location.

The acquisition, besides the promising technology, is also a talent grab. Business Insider points to at least four former Googlers. Their past includes experience with Google’s Mobile team and Gears, the platform which included a geolocation API (our Google Gears API profile). Twitter already employs Ryan Sarver, who previously worked on another geolocation product at Skyhook Wireless (our Skyhook Wireless API profile).

Though the team is bound to be busy with Twitter’s geolocation features, we hope this doesn’t mean the end for the GeoAPI platform. It’s a young service, but it still has a lot of promise.

At the very least, hopefully a more geo-enabled Twitter will provide the location-sharing platform that can reach mass adoption. Brady Forrest at O’Reilly Radar points out the possibilities:

Twitter has the opportunity to become a major location broker. Twitter currently has a very simple on/off switch for location. To become a full-fledged consumer location service (like Latitude or Fire Eagle) they will need to build in more controls.

Twitter’s Williams points to a more “location-aware future,” especially through apps using its API. We’re looking forward to following along.

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3 Responses to “Twitter Doubling Down With Geo APIs”

December 31st, 2009
at 3:46 pm
Comment by: MrRoyce

As a developer that uses both the Twitter and GeoAPI, I am closely following this partnership. I am also hoping that this doesn’t mean the end of the exisitng GeoAPI platform, but I am having trouble seeing what that has to do with Twitter/Tweets. The Mixer labs folks have a great resource of locations and an excellent technical platform to develop on. It would be a shame to see that come to a quick and dirty end. Hopefully, at the very least, they will keep the native GeoAPI platform for developers while they develop a different technology set for the Twitter integration.

I am not optimistic about that. Oh well.

December 23rd, 2010
at 12:01 am
Comment by: Twitter API Updates Mean an End to GeoAPI

[...] The Twitter API is one of the widely used APIs in our directory. It is also one of the fastest changing, with updates going out to its developer list on what feels like a weekly basis. Some recent changes are especially big and mean an end to the GeoAPI, which Twitter acquired a year ago. [...]

December 23rd, 2010
at 7:33 am
Comment by: Twitter API Updates Mean an End to GeoAPI | Another Newyork Times

[...] The Twitter API is one of the widely used APIs in our directory. It is also one of the fastest changing, with updates going out to its developer list on what feels like a weekly basis. Some recent changes are especially big and mean an end to the GeoAPI, which Twitter acquired a year ago. [...]

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Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.