Year One Labs already has one good reason to be happy this week, and thanks to all the positive buzz surrounding an earlier investment, Localmind, they probably have another.
Localmind is an iPhone app that uses geolocation to answer questions you have about a location. Ask Localmind a question, and the app finds another user at the location you need info about, and delivers the question to them. For example, you could ask if there is a wait for a restaurant you want to visit, or you could find out if a product is available at a store, and get a response from a living, breathing human being.
Year One made their initial investment in Localmind in November of 2010. It’s been incubating since then, and the company recently allowed members of the media to test out the beta of the mobile version. GigaOM tested it out, and had great things to say about it:
Specifically, I saw there were Localmind users at a ramen place I’ve been known to frequent, and since I felt my tummy rumble, I asked if there would be trouble getting a seat, since it was the lunch hour. In less than a minute, I received a response that the restaurant wasn’t busy at all, which sent a notification to both my iPhone and my email address.
Localmind also has the benefit of starting with services you already use. When you launch the app for the first time, it asks you which check-in service you use. Gowalla, Foursquare and Facebook are all supported at this point, and choosing one concludes the sign-up process. The app also adds a gamification element, encouraging users to field questions, by allowing you to become a Localmind Expert once you pass a certain threshold of interaction with the service. Localmind keeps the exact mechanics of this process a secret, but it definitely has to do with how often you check-in and answer questions.
The Localmind app also offers a lot of little touches that make the overall experience decidedly awesome. For instance, you can like or flag people’s replies, which is useful in promoting good behavior and dissuading bad. Liking an answer prompts you to enter a text message reply to the person who posted it, which by default is a quick “Thank you” that makes the service feel a lot more friendly than other similar apps. Whoever came up with the general tone of the language used by the app for messages and notification text really hit the nail on the head, too. It’s informal and jocular, and helps contribute to the general feeling that you’re actually using a social service to genuinely engage with other people.