Locus Android app shares your whereabouts with a select few

by Caitlin M. Foyt

Locus for your Android phone is sort of like popular social networking service Foursquare, only there's no badges to be earned, and you can be as private or as public as you'd like.

The premise of Locus is simple. You mark your spot on a map to share your location with friends and family while you're on the go. It's similar to Foursquare, another map-based social-networking app that allows the people in your life to see where you are at any given time.

What makes this app so different from popularly used Foursquare, though, is that this one isn't a kind of adventure game where you earn badges and trophies for checking in at various local places. This is a much more simple app, one that's not directly affiliated with chains and local businesses, and one that won't pick up on what you're talking about if you try searching for a particular event or activity (like Foursquare does). Additionally, you have more control over your privacy when using this app.

You can share your location with only select people through the various chains of more personal communication: text message, Bluetooth, email, etc. Or, you can be more public about it, and tweet or post your location on Facebook if you'd like.

I make regular use of Google Maps, so I guess I expected this app to closely resemble that. However, navigating this app wasn't as intuitive as I'd hoped. There weren't any instructions on what the various buttons control or how to work the app, in general, so it took me some time to figure out what I was doing.

Once I got a grip on Locus, though, I was pleased to find that this application is extremely customizable. For instance, you can name your own categories, and match them with your choice of various icons from the drop down menu. There's also a "Map Manager" function that allows you to select how you'd like your map to look. If you've always been most comfortable working with Google maps, you have the choice of "Classic," "Satellite," "Hybrid" or "Terrain." Or, if you like the look of Bing's maps, you can choose from "Road," "Hybrid," "London A-Z" or "OS Maps." Locus gives you access to online map services from all over the world. The vision for this app is to create the possibility of spontaneous meet-ups with friends, or possibly make friends and family feel more at ease by letting them know where you are when you're traveling. It's a nice alternative to the sometimes commercial, gimmicky vibe some might get from Foursquare, but still allows people to feel included. If you're not into gold stars and status based on drinking more coffee than your friends, but would still like people to know where you are at the moment, this is the perfect app for your personality.