AOL's MapQuest announced the launch of some new features for its MapQuest Vibe product (web and iPhone), bringing a gaming element to it.
That includes check-ins, "neighborhood influence," which lets users share votes, comments and check-ins across Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter, the ability to compete against friends and other people for said influence, the ability to win VIP badges, and an activity wall, which includes search functionality the company has retooled to provide faster results. Users can now search for businesses by name or reputation, using keywords.
It uses "Vibe Score" to rank criteria like user votes and MapQuest's own info on reputation, popularity, edginess, walkability and other metrics.
“What nudges someone through the door of a restaurant when unsure of the potential outcome is usually a friend’s opinion,” said Michael Iams, principal product manager, MapQuest Mobile. “The MapQuest Vibe iPhone app unites and organizes the shared wisdom of a person’s social network when hunger strikes and neighborhoods are unfamiliar. Even locals sometimes need a little coaxing to make a decision on where to go, which mqVibe answers with quick, real-time recommendations.”
MapQuest says mqVibe’s algorithm generates real-time rankings in 50,000 neighborhoods, 30,000 cities and 50,000 “hotspots” around the U.S.
“MapQuest Vibe is very useful during an event like SXSW, where you need to be able to find the best places in Austin to eat, grab a drink or just hang out,” said Vijay Bangaru, VP of product at MapQuest. “Our initial launch of mqVibe introduced the neighborhood as a new context for local discovery. This latest version layers in the expertise of the community and sets up a framework to rewarding our users with influence and reputation. mqVibe now gives you merchant deals, the ability to have targeted local information, and other new offerings that address a lot of the needs of the SXSW crowd.”
They're actually launching a national tour for mqVibe, starting with SXSW in Austin.
At SXSW, MapQuest is giving users the opportunity to win prizes like cowboy boots, an Austin BBQ dinner and event Austin-brewed beer. Users can show MapQuest's street team members, who will be sprinkled throughout the town from the sound of it, that they've downloaded the iPhone app. The app will feature five daily specials and flash-mob giveaways throughout the entire SXSW event.
MapQuest currently has 36 million unique monthly visitors, according to the company.