Ban.jo is the first social media app to come along in a while that is actually worth keeping. It is an excellent hybrid of the location-based world of apps like Foursquare and Gowalla with the social experience of Facebook and Twitter.
It works because it does not seek to create a new service, but instead builds new tools on top of existing networks.
With Ban.jo, a Google map displays nearby users of social services, whether they be tweeting or checking in. For a better experience connect some or all of the profiles from Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare (a favorite among TheAppPlanet staff) or Gowalla. There are several ways to view this information – through the map, a list view or in the “who’s near” tab.
The more services the better; Ban.jo then color codes the connections by friend status to give a good sense of what everyone is up to. Given that locations can be shared across four different services this is a great way to synthesize this information into one application. A Ban.jo user can also use the connected services to check in or tweet. Using Twitter does not carry the extra services with it as the native Twitter, app, but it is fairly convenient to have this option from within Ban.jo.
With Ban.jo it is fun to just explore your area and other cities to find out what people are up to – it’s like a perfectly justifiable form of snooping. In reality, it brings alive what things are happening in a city whether your friends are doing something awesome they neglected to tell you about.
The nicest surprise was the privacy settings tab. Included is a full walkthrough of some of the essential privacy components of the four social networks included in Ban.jo. These settings can throw off many users, so it is good to see this get prominent play.
Ban.jo is what Google Latitude could have been. But instead of a service that nobody uses, Ban.jo has thoughtful integration of the most popular social networks. It is an app to keep an eye on as it further progresses.
- Excellent integration of social media
- Fun to snoop, er, browse
Off the Mark:
- Some slow load times on maps