Location-based social networking got a bit more interesting with the recent release of Loopt 2.0 for iPhone and iPod touch. This major new upgrade puts businesses, events, and even shopping coupons on the map, all while making it easier to stay in touch with friends and make new ones.
Loopt got a significant redesign in 2.0, placing more of an emphasis on places, events, and the "pulse" of what's going on around you. The new version adds information from Zagat and Citysearch, two popular Web services obsessed with location, to display things like businesses, upcoming events, and coffee shops within a walk or short drive. You can easily get a phone number, Web link, description, and directions for most restaurants and businesses, as well as view ratings and other Loopt users who liked a particular spot.
Loopt 2.0 can also display coupons from nearby retailers, making it a useful on-the-spot shopping companion.
Of course, this is all in addition to Loopt 2.0's refreshed features for staying in touch with friends, finding out what they're up to, and where they're up to it. You can now view all your friends and their updates on a map in real time or opt to view their updates in a list with easy location links. In addition, you can now also selectively cross-post each of your updates and photos to Facebook and Twitter.
This update makes Loopt's iPhone app—and its overall service—far more interesting, better positioning it as a well-rounded competitor with features that cover both friends and what's going on around us. Combined with that always-on location sharing feature the company began testing with AT&T in September, Loopt 2.0 has a lot of new potential.