Loopt Launches Mobile Location Based Application Platform

Loopt has the most tightly integrated and feature rich mobile social networking service we’ve seen, and we’ve seen a bunch.

Loopt’s mobile application lets you broadcast your location even while your phone is closed and send messages or photos between you and your friends. It can do this to a greater degree because of their deal with Sprint/Nextel, which recently went un-exclusive. But a social application isn’t all that useful unless your friends are using it too, and so far Loopt has been limited to the Sprint network. That is, until now.

Loopt is launching a beta program for developers on a new mobile social networking platform. The platform will free user’s data from the network and let developers incorporate it into new SMS, WAP, or mobile location based applications using Loopt’s APIs. Loopt’s API’s will feed geographical data from users who opt into the applications to a developers program. Yahoo’s Brickhouse has been working on a similar GPS platform as well (Fire Eagle), but relies on the programmer to feed the location data into the service. Another location based service, Plazes, doesn’t use GPS, but solves the problem by letting users “bookmark” their location to make broadcasting their movements easier. Loopt says their API will solve the compatibility problems between phones and networks for developers so they only have to worry about building the application.

To participate in the beta, go here and tell them how you’d use the service. They’re working with a group of 15 to 20 developers on designing the first applications already and will be supporting some more carriers as well, although the details hush hush.

However, you can imagine what kinds of services will develop. With location data, you could make smarter search queries, trigger location related messages, or more easily post photos or messages related to your location.

Loopt says their deal with Sprint and related carriers gives them potential exposure to over 50 million users, although they haven’t released any user numbers. Boost, which they originally launched with, has last reported they had 100,000 users and not updated that number in some time.