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Sprint App of the Week - Foursquare and location-based social networking apps

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Journeyman

You want to capture the attention of trend-setting Geeks and the techno-elite? Hard to find a better place this time of year than Austin, Texas.

Some consider the South by Southwest conferences for Interactive and Music – or SXSW, or even “South By” to the truly hip – to be the place where Twitter truly took off a few years back.

Well, most members of the Sprint SXSW social media team are back home with news of the mobile apps generating the biggest buzz at this year’s Texas gathering of geeks.

Foursquare, Gowalla and Plancast were the most talked-about apps, they report.

More information:

Foursquare

Gowalla 

Plancast

You don’t have to be on the tech cutting edge or even in Texas to try them out.

Download these apps on your Sprint phone and you will find that they can be a fun and helpful way to explore your town, connect with friends or find hidden gems of restaurants and local shops.

On location-based social networking apps such as Foursquare, the service uses your phone’s location-sensing capabilities to display a list of local restaurants and shops. Tap the screen to “check in” or leave a tip about your favorite dish or special deal.

If you are visiting a different city or an unfamiliar part of town, you can look on Foursquare for a list of places where you can grab a bite.  You know that friend who always seems to know about the hot new restaurant? With Foursquare, you can have access to that “friend” wherever you go.

Many businesses are still trying to figure out how to tap into the power of Foursquare and some similar apps. Check in enough times at a single location and you might become the “Mayor” on Foursquare.

Some of the restaurants in Austin were using the service to notify patrons about "specials nearby." And if you were lucky enough to be the Mayor of that spot? Half-price drinks. It’s good to be the king. Or at least the Mayor.

In some ways, Foursquare can be a game. Bask in the glory when you can claim a new badge or a mayorship. Or cringe when someone else swipes the title of “Your Honor” by checking in more to one of your favorite locations.

Foursquare has been called last year’s “breakout” app at SXSW, according to this report in Mashable.

But this year, Foursquare stepped it up even more. The service reported adding nearly 100,000 users in a little more than a week.

“Foursquare also reported a record check-in day over the weekend, with 347,000 of them taking place on Saturday, a surge also fueled in large part by SXSW festivities,” Mashable reported.

Mashable said Gowalla was experiencing its own surge of interest this week.

Plancast also drew attention for the help it can offer in letting your friends know what you are up to and where you might meet.

Try out these apps or maybe look for some other mobile apps that combine the wisdom of the crowds and the well-connected with the location technology available on mobile phones.  Have you gotten any good tips from one of these services? How else can you use them?