On election day, pollsters interviewed hundreds of thousands of people to find out who they were voting for, but some local news stations used a different means of getting answers: Banjo for iPhone and Android. What began as an app to combine feeds of where your friends are checking in on various social networks has evolved into a useful tool to transport yourself to any place in the world and see location-tagged public posts. On the day of the Aurora shooting, news teams plugged the city into Banjo and grabbed public Instagram pictures, tweets, and Facebook posts from the scene of the crime.
Today, the company is launching version 3.0 of its app — a complete visual revamp with an even bigger emphasis on plugging in places you find interesting, like a football game at Giants Stadium or a concert at Carnegie Hall, and seeing photos and tweets from those places in real time. First and foremost, the app now shows you which cities worldwide contain the highest population of people you know, and those you might know. Tapping a city takes you there, and pops up check-ins, photos, and tweets from the area that friends have posted. The new app also shows posts you might care about based on mutual connections you have with the person that posted — so even if you decided to skip WWDC in San Francisco this year, you can zoom to the Yerba Buena center and see live tweets and posts from developers attending the conference.
The crazy part is that since Banjo's plugged in to most of the social networking sites you use, it can in real time generate degrees of separation. Tapping on somebody might show that they're connected to you through Instagram, but to a friend of yours through Foursquare. With version 3.0, Banjo becomes the first service to effectively cross reference all of the public information you can find on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Instagram in real time. If you're heading to the airport, you can plug in LGA (LaGuardia Airport in New York City) and instantly see recent check-ins and posts from friends who are there right now — and you don't even have to worry what social network you're connected to them on.
All that's really missing is a web version, but the company remains focused on mobile for now. "There may be a time we do it... it would be simple," Banjo CEO Damien Patton says. "But for now we're focusing on back-end tech and how users are using the app in the real world." At least for now, the primary use case is seeing who's around, or who's posting photos someplace you want to be. Whether it's seeing tweeted photos from the sideline of a football game, or simply seeing what friends are up to near you in a platform-agnostic way, the back-end of Banjo is the real killer feature, and could make the company a prime target for acquisition.
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