Twitter Doubling Down With Geo APIs

If you are as optimistic as we were about Twitter's location features, you should be downright giddy now. Twitter has acquired the company--and staff--behind one of the most innovative mapping-related APIs. Mixer Labs' GeoAPI , previously known as TownMe, hosts your geographic data and allows spatial queries such as "find the closest location" (for more see our earlier TownMe news coverage and our TownMe API profile).

Twitter founder Evan Williams announced the acquisition:

The Mixer Labs crew has been working on harnessing the power of local information for a couple years and just recently launched GeoAPI, a comprehensive service for helping developers build geolocation-aware applications. As of today, they're 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.

The acquisition, besides the promising technology, is also a talent grab. Business Insider points to at least four former Googlers. Their past includes experience with Google's Mobile team and Gears, the Platform which included a geolocation API (our Google Gears API profile). Twitter already employs Ryan Sarver, who previously worked on another geolocation product at Skyhook Wireless (our Skyhook Wireless API profile).

Though the team is bound to be busy with Twitter's geolocation features, we hope this doesn't mean the end for the GeoAPI platform. It's a young service, but it still has a lot of promise.

At the very least, hopefully a more geo-enabled Twitter will provide the location-sharing platform that can reach mass adoption. Brady Forrest at O'Reilly Radar points out the possibilities:

Twitter has the opportunity to become a major location broker. Twitter currently has a very simple on/off switch for location. To become a full-fledged consumer location service (like Latitude or Fire Eagle) they will need to build in more controls.

Twitter's Williams points to a more "location-aware future," especially through apps using its API. We're looking forward to following along.

Be sure to read the next Mapping article: FourSquare Open to All, No Longer City-Centric