Twitter API Adds Location Data - Tweets Get Realtime Geo

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone has just announced a new geolocation API that will be available to developers fairly soon (Twitter API profile). The new API, which will likely be rolled out in Twitter clients before being available on the Twitter site, will allow users and developers to add latitude and longitude to tweets, thereby adding a valuable new layer of meta information to tweets.

According to Biz's post, the new API has various implications for improving how Twitter is used, including the ability for users to connect with other users based on geographic commonality:

For example, with accurate, tweet-level location data you could switch from reading the tweets of accounts you follow to reading tweets from anyone in your neighborhood or city—whether you follow them or not. It's easy to imagine how this might be interesting at an event like a concert or even something more dramatic like an earthquake. There will likely be many use cases we haven't even thought of yet which is part of what makes this so exciting.

The API will first be released as a developer preview, and it likely that we will see existing apps and mashups built with the Twitter API quickly integrate this new feature. We can only guess that we also will see the rapid emergence of a new breed of geolocation enabled apps and mashups that use this new API in unexpected ways.

Documentation on the new API is not yet available. Developers and Twitter users should note that this in an opt-in feature, especially important with respect to privacy. As Biz describes it:

Folks will need to activate this new feature by choice because it will be off by default and the exact location data won't be stored for an extended period of time. However, if people do opt-in to sharing location on a tweet-by-tweet basis, compelling context will be added to each burst of information.

The news is certainly leading to quite a buzz on various blogs (TechCrunch, Mashable, and Google Maps Mania) as well as on Twitter itself. O'Reilly's Brady Forrest points out that there are more technical details in the Twitter developer group, including source example shown below


We're excited to hear about this, and we're curious to see how this new API will fit into the overall geolocaiton ecosystem, which includes Yahoo!'s Fire Eagle (our Fire Eagle API Profile) and Google Latitude.

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: MapQuest Zooming Away With Its Features


Comments (16)

[...] hand, this is curious, but this follows suit with Geotagged tweets were rolled out to the API first. So, even though Twitter is proud of its use of the API to create the new site, it’s still [...]

[...] you are as optimistic as we were about Twitter’s location features, you should be downright giddy now. Twitter has acquired [...]

[...] of the new apps is the Twitter app, which utilizes the recently released Twitter geolocation API to display tweets on a [...]

[...] hand, this is curious, but this follows suit with Geotagged tweets were rolled out to the API first. So, even though Twitter is proud of its use of the API to create the new site, it’s still [...]

[...] things are changing. Twitter is geocoding tweets, location sharing is available to all. Now, maybe I’m biased, but I think 2010 is going to be [...]

[...] Many of the mashups have been “filling holes,” as Twitter investor Fred Wilson described. Many developers reacted negatively to the phrase, but it’s one of the better stories of a development platform. For example, Nearby Tweets (original screenshot from our Nearby Tweets mashup profile pictured below) launched a year ago, several months before Twitter announced geolocation. [...]

[...] search web pages for text, but many services are looking to go above and beyond with features like location and people tagging. The big downside to these features is that they rely on end users to manually [...]

[...] was just a microblogging platform. Sure, it was a popular one, but it wasn’t until the announcement of its geotagging API that it took its first step toward being a location platform. Since then, it has expanded its [...]

[...] Geotagged tweets, those that have the user’s location included, were famously available only via API for several months. Promoted Tweets have been in Twitter’s search site, as well as some [...]

[...] some previous releases, such as geotagged tweets, Twitter chose to first make the feature available on its own website. Location information was [...]

[...] has already added a photo entity for including Twitter photos in your applications. Much like location added to tweets, images are now considered meta-data, not just a URL tacked on to a [...]


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