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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.”

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.