There hasn't been a knockout product to emerge from SXSW since Foursquare.
That sounds like forever ago, but Foursquare, that ubiquitious app that popularized "checking in" by broadcasting your location over Twitter and Facebook, only kicked off at the 2009 conference.
So after two years without a conference winning technology, SXSWi is going back to location. Location, location, location.
At least 15 location apps are making a play to be the Foursquare of this year, many having been launched or updated this week to coincide with the conference.
Sonar, INTRO, Glancee, EchoEcho - it would be exhausting, futile exercise to go through them all (though some have). So here are two location-based services getting the most buzz.
GeoLoqi looked at the full range of what location software can do and did it.
With a little coding, it can do almost anything. Even without tampering with the code, you can use it to check-in, leave location-based notes for yourself, get alerted when you pass by a location with a Wikipedia entry, track your movement around town.
It also found a way to keep battery usage down, a plague on location-services that are always monitoring where in the world you are.
You wouldn't, however, call it user-friendly. I see it offering a lot to businesses wanting to get into location-based services. It delivers rich analytics, like dwell time (how long users spend in certain locations), and geofencing, which sends alerts if users enter a specific location.
And that customizable, business-friendly approach is its accomplishment. In other words, not just another location app.
(And its founder, Amber Case, is the keynote speaker here.)
highlight is a more consumer-friendly location service. It's probably the most social of all the new crop of apps, if you find that sort of thing appealing still.
Highlight scrapes your Facebook profile of your friends, interests and other what-have-yous. When you are in the same location as someone who has common friends or interests, you are notified by highlight that they are nearby.
Sounds like a nightmare to me. But it does what it says, and if it connects people who otherwise wouldn't be connected, that's something.
I'd say it's mighty unlikely either of these will enter the mainstream after SXSWi, at least not in the way Foursquare did.
But both are experimenting with the limits of location - Geoloqi on a technological level, and highlight on a social one.
We carry small GPS-enabled devices with us at all times that can track our each and every move. How far do we want to go with that?