Twitter to Become Your Online GPS

This week Twitter announced a new feature for twitter.com and mobile.twitter.com called Twitter Places.

The idea is to allow users to tag their Tweets with their specific location, acting like an online GPS of sorts. The geo-location data is made possible with the help of Twitter partners TomTom (manufacturer of in-car GPS navigation systems) and Localeze (a search marketing firm specializing in local search).

Apart from tweeting your own location, the new feature allows you to click a Twitter Place within a Tweet to see recent Tweets from a particular location. Users of geo-social networking services Foursquare and Gowalla will be excited, because the new feature now integrates with these services. If you click on a registered Twitter Place, not only will you see standard tweets from that location, but you’ll also see recent check-ins from Foursquare and Gowalla.

The timing of Twitter’s new feature launch deliberately coincided with the kick off of the World Cup, to encourage people to tweet from and view tweets from World Cup stadiums in South Africa. From the official blog post about the launch:

“When turning to Twitter to keep up with the current game, it helps to know where a Tweet is coming from – is that person watching the game on TV or is he actually in the stadium? To help answer that question, we’re excited to announce Twitter Places”

Unfortunately, Twitter engineers did not account for the popularity of such a feature during a major sporting event and demand actually crashed their own servers for a few hours this week. More about that in another post.

Twitter Places is designed to work with the existing “Tweet with your location” functionality. Instructions for activating Twitter Places using the location function can be found in Twitter’s Help Center.

The new feature will be rolling out to users in 65 countries this week. You’ll know the feature is activated in your country when you see the “Add your location” link below the Tweet box when you’re logged in at Twitter.com

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