It looks like Twitter and the applications built around it are going to get smarter about where you’re tweeting from. The company just announced that it has purchased Mixer Labs, a startup that created the TownMe activity guide as well as GeoAPI, a set of developer tools for accessing TownMe’s location data.
The San Mateo, Calif. team was trying to build a Yelp competitor of sorts. It went beyond business listings and user reviews by pulling in other information available on the web, such as US Census Data.
Mixer Labs then offered developers access to that data through an API. So an application could get useful information, such as nearby tweets or locations of interest, about a set of latitude and longitude coordinates.
Developers could also create their own layer of data over Mixer Labs’, allowing you to store check-ins (like in Foursquare) or virtual prizes at different locations. (The screenshot above is from a demo application built for the API.)
The API was initially called the TownMe API, but was eventually spun off as a separate service, dubbed GeoAPI.
Twitter says this acquisition builds on its announcement last month of a geotagging API, allowing third-party applications to tag tweets with your location. Presumably it will use the GeoAPI data and tools to improve the information around a geotagged tweet, either within Twitter itself or in services using Twitter. The company writes:
As of today, [Mixer Labs is] part of Twitter and will be working to combine the contextual relevance of location to tweets. We want to know What’s happening?, and more precisely, Where is it happening? As a dramatic example, twittering “Earthquake!” alone is not as informative as “Earthquake!” coupled with your current location. We will be looking at how to integrate the work Mixer Labs has done with the Twitter API in useful ways that give developers behind geo-enabled apps like Birdfeed,Seesmic Web, Foursquare, Gowalla, Twidroid, Twittelator Pro and other powerful new possibilities.
I asked the Mixer Labs founders for more information on the deal, and they told me to ask Twitter, which I did. If I hear back, which doesn’t happen too often these days, I’ll update the post.