Loopt and AT&T Work Out $3.99/month "Always On" Location Updates Deal for iPhone

Loopt [Free - iTunes link (opens in new tab)], which matches social networks with location-based services into one smoldering hot Web 2.0 sammich, has struck a deal with AT&T that will let them update their iPhone users' location information even when the Loopt app proper isn't running.

Yes, you read that correctly -- the Loopt iPhone app isn't being granted any extra special background multi-tasking sanction by Apple for the iPhone, this is strictly a server-to-server, Loopt-to-AT&T deal, and it will come at a price. BusinessInsider scores the scoop:

Loopt will first offer the new always-on service in a trial for 5,000 users. You can sign up at Loopt's site using your iPhone's MobileSafari browser. After the 14-day trial, the always-on feature will cost $3.99 per month, added to your AT&T bill.

BusinessInsider also renews that old rumor about how Apple is seriously considering limited multi-tasking in a future software update. And, yes, they'll have to have something interesting to tempt users with in iPhone 4.0/4G next summer, so why not run with that? We'd like it!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Hah! If my friends want to know where I am at all times, THEY can pay AT&T $4/month!
  • Not enough of my friends/family use Loopt for me to justify that expense. I don't even think that I'd pay that for Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
    That said, this shows that the app store can generate revenue for the networks and that there is no need to control the distribution of apps like Verizon does. Sure, there's nothing like collecting $X from each and every person who buys an app from you and that deals like this are not as easy as raking in the cash. However, there are still opportunities to be had should the network be smart enough to put their pipes and billing systems to good use.
  • First they had since March to activate MMS and now they want there customers to pay $4 for a free App. Who's the Boss, Apple or AT&T? Loopt is apart of the Apple Store not AT&T. Did I here onetime from Apple if a Developer make a app for free they can't have a update where they can charge the customers? Free apps are always free update and all. AT&T sucks....
  • Twitter has emerged and killed Loopt. I never use it anymore. If friends wanna know what and where Im at they go to twitter.
  • its funny how AT&T's network is not large enough to support MMS and Tethering for the iPhone but they will do this...LOL
  • I have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but not a single one on Loopt.
  • Stalk me, Kill me.
    This app dies soon after the first victim hits the press.
  • In order to provide our customers with the best possible experience....
  • It would be kind of cool to share location with a few select friends, but a monthly fee? No thanks. If this really is a beta test of sorts then how about a free test!
  • There are some times you just don't want your friends to know where you are, or where your iPhone is.
    (Tiny because it has underscores. Lets fill Rene and Deiter's mailbox with petitions to remove the underscore sensitivity in links).
  • AT&T is becoming a monster!!! They are so money hungry and greedy!!! All we want is good service and good features and all they can say is....."Let Them Eat Cake" LOL!!! Don't take us for granted AT&T! Remember where the customers!!! You can't buy and pay for your own sh!t!!! Watch out now'
  • In order to increase shareholder value. Customers just drive shareholder value. The more they can milk from the customers, the more the shareholders make and the more shareholders they can draw to the stable. They know that they can make bank on iPhone users which makes the bottom line look rosier. Shareholders like that, buy the shares, wait for the share price to increase and then cash out later with the profit. Money for nothing and your chics for free.
  • I phone sucks and MMS is old news LOL and why pay 4 bucks when you can do this for free with the pre LMAO you guys are suck with old problems LOL
  • How, exactly, is AT&T bad for doing this? It's voluntary and Loopt had to want to be a partner. Loopt felt that this was in their best interest to attract customers this way. There was no gun to their heads it was their choice. Now, I don't for a minute believe that folks will go for it. But why not give people the choice and let the market decide.
    And this release doesn't mean that AT&T choose this over MMS and network improvements. In all likelihood, this is back end server stuff. AT&T already knows where your are - they have to by law in the event that you place a 911 call. So they're probably using that capability and passing your location to Loopt via some sort of web service.
    I'm no AT&T fanboy and think that there's a lot of work that they need to do to make their network better just for calls. However, I don't find fault in their attempt to make money from what some may see as a value added service. I don't see the value and will not add it to my bill. That is my choice. If that's your choice too make it and move on.
  • Now I can get stucked by Loopt and AT&T all the time. So does this mean that AT&T not apple does not want people to run iPhone apps in the background how is Apple ok with this. Also that is a hug drane on baterry life, so no I will not be using this to allways upadate my location because you don't need know where I am all the time! Just some times when I chose to let you know.
  • no thanks, they'll know when I decide to open that app and let them know
  • I agree with Bill. Lol
    This might have worked if they'd thought of it when Loopt was new and shiny but even then, don't we pay enough every month just to have iPhones?
    If I feel the need to share my location, it's not hard to just open the app. No way I'd pay 4 bucks a month to spare me having to do that. I can't imagine why anyone would.
  • It sucks that it's 4 bucks, but it's a cool idea. I'm going to try it.
  • Why would I pay another $4 a month when I already pay for unlimited data!?!? I hope this isn't the start of a trend...it's basically paying for multitasking apps!
  • @Bill
    You win the thread.
    Playing devil's advocate, I suspect people are skeptical of AT&T here because of history with carrier-controlled products, a mold which the iPhone has largely and thankfully broken. Once Loopt is established as $4/month subscription, AT&T would have an incentive to prevent other such apps, or even to push Apple to prevent backgrounding, since a background Loopt thread could do this without a subscription.
    Granted, that is not a likely outcome, and the FCC might have a word or two to say even if AT&T tried, but carriers (Verizon more than AT&T, IMHO) have certainly attempted worse things in the past.
  • Considering both you and the subjects of your unhealthy obsession both need to pay $4, I don't see where this becomes even remotely useful.
  • 4 dollars a month? for something that can be done for free on any phone that allows background apps? for something that can be done manually on the current iphone?
    ridiculous. typical carrier gouging that i'm not going to pay for.
  • Just what this world needs... Not!!!
  • Great idea-guess it will help people find their lost phone also. But I'm kinda amazed since Loopt has been hanging when it starts and draining battery (not just on my Iphone) since update 3.0, and the support staff just say "we'll have our technicians look at it."
  • Loop+Backgrounder= free
    Why would you want people to know exactly where you are all the time.
    "I swear sweetie, im not at the bar!"
  • Loopt resides in the graveyard of apps that I've purchased then removed from my phone.
    But I am curious, how does AT&T strike a deal like this which directly conflicts with Apple's Free App rule? Free Apps means no future costs...except when AT&T makes a side deal??
  • Alot of you guys with tampon protrusions in the crotches of your pants are misconstruing this. Which could have been avoided if you just comprehended the article before ou commented.
    I'm sure this will just be some extra functionality that is entirely OPTIONAL and the people that use Loopt the way it is now may continue to do so.
    The only beef anyone could possibly have with this is the "free apps remain free" BS. This would be a free app that has the potential to cost money if yo choose to let it.
  • Add me to the chorus wondering why they can take $4 for this additional use of their precious bandwidth, but not $30 for tethering.
  • Is this "always on" feature even active for those who signed up for the trial? A friend signed up and when he is not running the Loopt app, his location never updates, even after 12 hours.
    Per AT&T, the always on Loopt will update the location every 1-2 hours and the location will accurate within a few miles! That is supposed to be worth a monthly fee? No!
    If you really want others to know your actual location from the GPS, just turn the Loopt app on for a second every few hours instead of paying $4 for inaccuate locations!
  • I wouldn't want everyone to know where I am, but I could think of some other uses for this.
    One thing I have to wonder is how to AT&T's server know where you are? If the phone isn't active then the GPS shouldn't be running, so that leaves triangulation. Not sure how well that would work.
  • I tried Loopt when it first came out... lame! It tries to be Facebook + Location, which makes no sense, I can just see where my friends are in Facebook or on Twitter when they want me to know where they are. Not as some big brother default.
    The only people doing interesting things with Location on the iPhone is the app WhosHere and that's 100% free. I think it's because it's sort of a rethink on location and your phone, not just a rehash of web social networks shrunk down for the phone.
  • @SpiceRak2
    "Free Apps means no future costs except when AT&T makes a side deal??"
    Apparently, yes...AT&T has already done this one, with AT&T Navigator -- free app, but a $10/month subscription added directly to your wireless bill in order to use it.
  • I won't even answer the door for unexpected drop-ins who are bleeding to death with knives in their chests. Would I really want it known where I am when I'm AWAY from home?
  • Makes me wan to give my daughter an iPhone just so I can keep track of where she is!
    Kick Butt
  • @fassy
    I didn't know that one. I assume Apple made this "rule" to avoid customers complaining of "bait and switch". Yet, I'm sure the last expectation they had was that AT&T would disregard the policy or at least be an exception. I don't want to complain too much...the obvious fix for this is to charge for the applications.
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