Why GPS-based smart apps failed to go viral at SXSW

The South by Southwest (SXSW) conferences have given geeks a lot of social inroads over the last few years. They brought us blogging, then microblogging; they were a launchpad for Twitter and Foursquare. Thanks to those web services, meeting at SXSW IRL (In Real Life) turned the geeks hiding behind glowing screens into “friends”.

Foursquare 3.0 will recommend where to check in

Foursquare, the hot location-based check-in startup, today announced on its blog that it will be releasing Foursquare 3.0 later today for Android and iPhone. The new version comes with several feature updates, but probably the most notable is the much-rumored recommendation engine.

Business-networking app Unsocial gets new leadership

The guys over at Unsocial, a mobile app that helps people find business connections in a nearby geographic area, have certainly kept themselves busy. Since launching at VentureBeat’s DiscoveryBeat conference just a few weeks ago, Unsocial has added a new CEO, executive vice president and 10,000 users — just in time to return as the official conference app of GreenBeat 2010.

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.

Snap a wine label to find where to buy that wine

Snooth just launched an iPhone application which uses image recognition to do something genuinely useful (as least to me). If you take a picture of a wine label, Snooth finds the stores closest to you that stock that wine and the prices in each store. You can also read reviews of the wine and find similar bottles by winery, region or varietal.

deCarta gets $6.2M for location-based platform

deCarta, maker of geospatial software for location-based apps, has raised $6.2 million of an expected $10.2 million in a fourth round of funding, according to a filing with the SEC. The San Jose-based company develops a platform that powers local search and mapping apps. The funding comes at the end of a busy week for location-based services, including the launch of location check-in feature Facebook Places and Facebook’s acquisition of location-based startup Hot Potato. deCarta last raised a $35 million round in 2008 from investors including Norwest Venture Partners, T-Mobile Venture Fund, TransLink Capital, Mobius Venture Capital and Cardinal Venture Capital.

Facebook's Chris Cox explains why Places is 'dope'

Facebook concluded the unveiling of its new Places location check-in feature today with a speech from vice president of product Chris Cox (pictured here at another event) that was either inspiring or cheesy, depending on how charitable you were. Either way, it hinted at the bigger vision that company executives have for the product.