Review: Streetbrew | webOS Nation

Review: Streetbrew 17

by Nathan Mylott Wed, 27 Oct 2010 6:29 am EDT

Streetbrew The location-based social check-in party is getting to be a bit crowded, but the new guy just walked in with some new kinds of brew and wants to be the life of the party. Newcomer Streetbrew offers location based gaming, chat, news and event announcements, and even cash rewards for creating locations.

Streetbrew does all the same things the popular location-based social check-in apps do (let's just call them LBC apps to save on the tongue tie factor). Of course you check-in where you are and your friends can be notified in case they want to join you. You can push those check-ins along with comments out to Twitter and Facebook. You can upload pictures at locations. You can claim territories and battle for turf on teams similar to another popular LBC app on iPhone. You can get notifications in your dashboard when your friends check-in. That's all old-hat in the new game of location-based social networking. Going beyond these standard features is where Streetbrew shines.

The fundamental difference between Streetbrew and the two big LBC app contenders on webOS, Foursquare and Gowalla, is that it is centered more around social interaction. Foursquare and Gowalla's main purpose is to report your location to your friends and compete with them to be the one who leaves home the most often, or who returns to it the most, depending on how you feel about checking in at your own house. Streetbrew does that, but the main thing you see at each place you check-in is chat, not just a list of who has been there before you. While you can leave tips or comments in Foursquare and Gowalla, its interface does not present it as the main focus, nor is there any reward for saying something useful.

Streetbrew At each place you check-in on Streetbrew, you will see or create a virtual bulletin board called a "wall." On this wall you can say anything you want and potentially converse with the others who frequent there. You can post pictures too, naturally. You will also be able to see which team controls that area, called a "base," and you can see your team's point standings. The points are awarded for check-ins and posts. Others may click to "like" your posts and that would earn you extra points. The points can then be spent to claim a base for your team or to upgrade one you already control. The upgrades include things like fortification for your base to help fight against a take over.

In addition to the location based social networking component, you can also play games at locations. So far there are two games that can be played at locations on Streetbrew, and you can earn points by playing them. They are listed separately in the App Catalog: Brewdoku and Minebrew, and according to the folks at Streetbrew, more are in the works.

When you first load up the app and see the list of nearby walls, you can hit the + button on the bottom to add another wall, or post a news story or event. This is not only extremely useful when you are entering an area to read the latest and future happenings, but also to citizen journalists, local entertainers, event planners or venues.

When you post a news story, you enter a title for it and a picture. You can attribute it to a Publisher, which could be your blog, magazine, newspaper, or whatever other medium you wish to promote. You can write up the full story right there on your Pre or wait until you get in front of a computer.  Event posts are done a similar way, with a title and description, start and end time, and can also be attributed to a publisher. One important note about this feature though: you must click the location field at the bottom to invoke a map and drag the news icon to the location. In my tests I discovered that failing to do this would prevent your carefully crafted news post from ever showing up.

If you create a wall at a business, and later the owner of that business claims ownership of it on Streetbrew's website, which is a paid service, you will get a share of the proceeds. The business owner can then put their own logo on the wall and use it to offer promotions and communicate with their customers. They can also put a description of their business on the wall and other information like hours and menus, coupons, and use it as a digital punch card for frequent visit incentives (i.e. every fifth coffee gets you a free one). Since Streetbrew is in its infancy, one could create a lot of walls right now and suggest businesses claim those walls, and make some small profits in the process.

Streetbrew's developer, GeoMonkey, will even create a custom version of the app for your business. They have already created one for a college radio station in Montana and it recently hit the App Catalog as KBGA 89.9 fm. This custom app has all the features of Streetbrew plus you can listen to the radio station right in the app and read localized news and events that it posts.

"Streetbrew is a licensable framework that we've developed to let businesses and organizations put their own faces on mobile applications," explained Kevin Karpenske, Lead Developer at GeoMonkey and programmer for the webOS Streetbrew apps. "Streetbrew itself is the API and user interface shared by this suite of applications."

This does not mean that one would need to be, or to hire, a developer to create a customized LBC app. "Minebrew, Brewdoku and KBGA 89.9 fm were also created, released and are now maintained by us."

A customized app would exist separately from the main Streetbrew app, acting as its own individual social network. "The Streetbrew application you see in the app catalog is our original 'barebones' application that contains no mini-game and features ALL news and events (even from KBGA 89.9 fm users). In contrast, our KBGA 89.9 fm application features only news and events published by KBGA or added by users of the KBGA app," Karpenske explained.

There is even a widget to embed on your website showing local information culled from Streetbrew users that can be fully customized in any way you want, right down to labeling and organizing the content yourself.

Streetbrew The potential for this app is limited only by the user's imagination. Companies could use it for their employees for instance. It could be an effective way to get information out to employees as soon as they arrive at work and employers could keep track of its salesmen's client visits. Hospitals and doctor's offices could use it to notify visitors of wait times (there are already hospitals using the web for this purpose). Schools could use it for students, for both announcements and safety. There are all sorts of uses for this type of platform, providing of course that there is a large base of users with smart phones and using this app.

The downside to Streetbrew currently is its lack of an established user base. A social network is only as good as its members. But both Streetbrew and the location-based segment of social networking are still in their infancy and have massive room to grow. Only time (and check-ins) will tell.