Localmind 2.0 review: Ask questions and get local, expert answers right on your iPhone

"I'm a big fan of Localmind because, unlike a lot of location-based apps, this one actually has a pretty solid userbase, even in my relatively tiny hometown."

Localmind 2.0 uses your iPhone's GPS to help you zero-in on local experts so you can chat with them live and ask them questions about the things that are important to you in your area. If you're familiar with Foursquare and Quora, it's almost a hybrid of those services where you can questions like, "are there any good bars around this restaurant you just suggested?"

Previously, LocalMind functioned like a helpful bulletin board where folks could leave questions for knowledgeable locals to answer. Now it's much more precise and meaningful. Questions in LocalMind 2.0 are fed into different categories, enabling others to easily find existing answers for nearby restaurants, pubs, shopping, travel, services, arts, and outdoors. Right now, my only qualm is that those filters are by default applied to your current location, as are any search results. I'd love to be able to do some advance scouting for Barcelona when I head over there for Mobile World Congress at the end of the month, but the only way you can hop between cities is to pinch-zoom out on the embedded Google Map a million times, then hunt around for your destination. Even then, one wayward tap, and you're zipped back to your current location. At least there's the browser companion which is more full-bodied.

Why would local experts want to help? Not simply out of the goodness of their hearts, of course. They get points. Once earning expert status at a particular venue, you earn karma points for answering questions, and as you hit certain milestones, you earn tiered titles. Think of it as Foursquare Mayorships, only with granularity and legitimacy.  If you don't want people harassing you with questions about your favourite haunts, you can always opt out of venue expertise. On top of Foursquare, Localmind can recognize Facebook Places check-ins, and also lets you share questions on Twitter.

I'm a big fan of Localmind because, unlike a lot of location-based apps that piggyback on Foursquare, this one actually has a pretty solid userbase, even in my relatively tiny hometown of Ottawa, Ontario. Generally, these sorts of apps have a decent amount of activity in the big cities, like New York and San Francisco, but those of us outside of gargantuan metropolises don't have much use for them. Beyond that, it finally feels like check-ins are actually worth something to someone now, and that I'm not just grasping for stupid virtual badges or stickers.

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.