TextPlus brings social features to group texting app

TextPlus, an application that lets groups easily text each other for free, today announced it has submitted its 4.4 version to Apple. The new version will allow users not only to text for free but also to search for people (see image),  bringing a new social aspect to group texting. We’ll be sure to let you know when the new version gets approved.

JiWire brings location data to mobile ads with Compass

JiWire, a company that uses Wi-Fi locations to deliver ads to consumers, today announced the launch of Compass, a service that delivers ads that pull in specific data based on the user’s location.

Gemvara continues rapid growth with online custom jewelry

Gemvara, the online tool for customizing and buying jewelry, today shared several impressive growth numbers with VentureBeat. According to founder and chief executive Matt Lauzon (pictured), the company, in less than a year, has gone from $0 to selling millions of dollars of jewelry.

Forrester reveals who uses location-based services the most

While only 4 percent of US online adults have ever used a location-based service, like popular check in app Foursquare, data from research firm Forrester shows that young adult males with college degrees appear to be the main user group.

With new programming tools, Foursquare hopes more developers will check in

Location-based check-in service Foursquare just announced on its blog that is has officially released the second version of its application programming interface, or API, in beta. The first version of its API, used by third-party developers to build software that connects to Foursquare’s services, will still be functional, but will probably phase out in a few months, according to the company.

Foursquare: 5 million users, 25,000 new ones a day

Foursquare cofounder and chief executive Dennis Crowley just took the stage at Le Web, an Internet conference held in Paris, France, and noted the company now has 5 million users, is adding 25,000 new users daily, and is seeing more than 2 million check-ins a day.

Loopt unveils new check in features with launch of version 4.0

Loopt, an early leader in location-based services, today announced it has launched the next version of its application with several new features, including automatic check-ins, text messages, social recommendations, and rewards from businesses.

Foursquare looks for full team of West Coast engineers

If you’re an engineer on the West Coast looking to join a hot startups, here’s a good reason to prepare your resume. According to a company blog post, popular mobile check-in application Foursquare has decided to put together a full team of engineers in its new West Coast office.

Scvngr won’t be outdone, gets its own major drink distributor

Scvngr, the check-in application that asks users to complete activity challenges, just announced a strategic partnership with major drink distributor Coca Cola. The two have joined forces to give users who check-in to certain Simon Malls across United States the opportunity to earn points and rewards like gift cards and other Coke-branded merchandise.

Facebook wants to be your…. homepage?

Facebook is apparently starting a push to get users to make it their default homepage. In fact, that’s exactly what they are doing with a new “Make Facebook Home” button that is beginning to appear on the top of user’s profiles.

Are you dummies ready for location services?

For all of you who are still trying to figure out how to use location-based services for your business, fear no more. We’ve gotten wind that, come June 2011, Dummies.com, the infamous how-to series from Wiley Publishing will have a new book on the market — “Location Based Marketing for Dummies”.

Yakaz brings location to social classified ads

Ever wish you could get all the eBay, Craigslist and Autotrader.com ads from your area in one location? Then here’s Yakaz, a social network for classified ads that is announcing the release of its latest version available in 190 countries and 50 languages.

Google launches local business-recommendation engine Hotpot

Google today announced on its blog the release of Hotpot, a recommendation engine for local businesses based on you and your friends’ ratings. Hotpot is an addition to the company’s Google’s Places initiative, a campaign to get local business owners to claim their venues, verify information and engage with customers.

SoGeo unveils location-recommendation app Whatser

SoGeo, a service that collects and analyzes location data for users, today announced the launch of Whatser. It’s a free mobile application that suggests where to go based on places that you like and that your friends like.

New updates hint at the future of Foursquare’s website

Popular mobile check-in application Foursquare today announced on its blog that it has made a few updates to its main website. I couldn’t help but wonder if the updates are in preparation for the site to allow users to check-in from their desktops.

Have you checked-in with Facebook Places? Probably not

An inside source at Facebook is claiming that some 30 million of its users have used Facebook Places, according to Business Insider. With more than 500 million users, that number would mean that only about 6% of Facebook users have tried the newly launched feature.

Gowalla thinks money with launch of new check-in features

Popular mobile check-in application Gowalla today announced it has launched several new features — all helping the company to make money from the service. The company’s new features include City Pages, Verified Businesses and a Stamp Calendar.

Foursquare won’t be outdone, gets its own astronaut

Just a week after competitor Gowalla teamed up with NASA to give users a few new check-in badges to chase, popular mobile game Foursquare has taken the idea to the next level, announcing it too is working with the government agency.

SkillSlate grabs $1.1M to find local service providers

SkillSlate, a website for easily finding local service providers such as dog walkers, DJs and movers, today announced it has secured a first funding round of $1.1 million. The company plans on using the funds to expand the service outside of the New York area and add more work categories.

NBA to launch Turnstile check-in app for games

The National Basketball League (NBA) may be looking to take advantage of the growing popularity of consumers checking-in to locations through its own application dubbed Turnstile, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Loopt brings users closer to Facebook friends

Loopt, an early leader in location-based services, today announced it has integrated Facebook Places into its mobile check-in application. The application is available for iPhone and iPod touch.

Houston, we’ve got check-ins: Gowalla and NASA team up

Popular mobile check-in game Gowalla announced a partnership today with government space agency NASA. While a mobile game and a space agency might not be the most likely of pairs, the two have joined forces to offer a country-wide scavenger hunt for virtual items, including moon rocks, NASA patches, spacesuits and space shuttles.

Foursquare to reach millions with Symbian launch

Popular mobile check-in game Foursquare today announced on its blog that is has launched a Symbian version of its location-based game. Symbian is one of Nokia’s mobile operating systems for mobile devices and low-end smartphones.

Pogoplug launches Pro for sharing personal files over the Internet

Cloud Engines, maker of the Pogoplug device for accessing and sharing content from your hard drive via the internet, today announced the launch of Pogoplug Pro. And for those who never liked the device because it was bright pink, the new Pro comes in black.

New Facebook patent could threaten Foursquare and Gowalla

While Facebook Places wasn’t the first on the location-based services scene, it may have just became the top dog. According to Eric Sherman at CBS’s BNET site, the company has been granted a very broad patent, filed in 2007, called “Systems and methods for automatically locating Web-based social network members.”

Yahoo makes display ads smarter with Dapper acquisition

Looking to make their display ads more appealing to advertisers and agencies, Yahoo today announced on its blog that it has plans to buy Dapper, a mashup technology to bring the advantages of search-based advertising into the world of display ads.

4 must-have social-media dashboards for your business

While big brands and agencies have the luxury of resources and money, local businesses don’t. What they need is a social-media dashboard — an all-in-one, Web-based monitoring tool for Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites where customers hang out — that can optimize their online presence, engage with users and manage social campaigns. But that tool needs to meet three criteria: cheap, easy to use and automated. With that in mind, here’s a list of the top four that I find particularly well-suited for business use.