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Android apps to rule SXSW 2012

by Kristen Nicole

While rumors of an Instagram Android launch swirl around SXSW this year (I’ll believe it when I see it), there’s plenty of Android apps already in the Market to help you navigate and enjoy the geek fest of the year. Ambient social discovery is a big theme this year, with several apps vying for early adopter attention at SXSW. There’s also some very helpful resources specific to the event, including an official app from SXSW itself.

SXSW GO (Free)

Designed with the active SXSW attendee in mind, the official SXSW GO app helps you find the right sessions, the best speakers and even other attendees of interest. With a map of downtown Austin and floorplans of the convention center, you’ll find all the booths, sessions and parties you need. With SXSocial integration, you’ll also be able to connect with others at the event, share photos and more.

Localmind (Free)

An app with events like SXSW in mind, Localmind is a crowd-sourced tool to see what’s going on at a given location. Ask questions of people that have checked-in somewhere, and see what they’re saying in real-time. It’s helpful for avoiding long lines when getting into parties or for recommendations on the best live bands, as well as where to find the best late night pizza joint. With an anxious user-base, Localmind is one of those apps that really delivers for SXSW attendees, presenting what it calls “real-time omniscience” at your fingertips.

Sonar (Free)

Launched last spring for iOS and updated in time for SXSW 2012, Sonar is a rich source of real-time data about who’s around you and what’s most relevant. Without check-ins or manual updates, Sonar highlights interesting developments from your friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to find the patterns important to you. This year, Sonar teamed-up with Eventbrite to help coordinate their people predictions, alerting you to folks you might want to talk to at a party or meet-up. Sonar’s come a long way from merely listing venues, becoming a social relevance tool that runs in the background. Currently in beta for Android, look for this app to make a splash at SXSW this year.

Forecast (Free)

From the makers of Hurricane Party, Forecast hopes to make an even bigger impression on SXSW attendees this year. Forecast operates on the idea of future check-ins, letting you share your plans on where you’re going. You can see where your friends will be, instead of where they’ve already checked-in, and actually make plans to meet them there. With a “Me Too” function and the ability to hold group chats, it’s easy enough to organize a meet-up at SXSW, whether a casual lunch or a sponsored event. Share your plans with a quick broadcast on Facebook and Twitter, and check-in (and earn points) on Foursquare as well.

LiquidSpace (Free)

Launched at SXSW last year, LiquidSpace has been updated for the professional user in need of an immediate workspace. With a growing database of venues across the U.S. (more importantly, across Austin), LiquidSpace’s real-time calendars let you search for a private room to hold an interview, write an article in peace, or hold a group meeting. Book work spaces directly from the app and share the meeting details with attendees. You can search by location, venue, space size, availability and work preferences. Find a place with Wi-Fi, see photos and ratings, view amenities and other features.

Glancee (Free)

Another social discovery tool, Glancee shows you who’s nearby, helping you meet people with similar interests by getting alerts when potential friends cross your path. From there, you can send someone a message or save them to your favorites. Glancee is designed not to drain your battery, running in the background to constantly monitor your surroundings and connect friends. Load it up with your Facebook friends to jump-start your network alerts, and learn some interesting things about people you may otherwise have missed.