Location sharing isn't a new thing. Apps like Foursquare have allowed users to broadcast their location to friends for years, and social media sites like Facebook have followed suit. With location sharing, you can state where you are right down to the exact coordinates. But this type of location sharing is on its way out. What's next? Ambient Proximity. And all of your favorite location sharing services are getting in on it.
Recently, Facebook launched "Nearby Friends" which lets you share your location with friends and also see which friends are nearby. This service is only available to users over the age of 18, and it's opt-in, so you don't even have to acknowledge it unless you want to use it. Using the service will send push notifications to your phone which will let you know which friends are in the area. What's different about this is that it doesn't give an exact address.
Foursquare also announced recently that they will be releasing a new app in the next few weeks called Swarm. Swarm works similarly to Facebook's "Nearby Friends" in that uses approximate location, but different in that it will lump your friends into groups based on how far they are from you. Even if their location is hundreds of miles away.
Ambient proximity will make offline connections easier to maintain. Knowing someone's exact location isn't always helpful, but knowing that someone is in the area could make it easier to set up some time together. It also provides more privacy for those that want it. No one will know exactly where you are unless you want them to. It's a whole new playing field.
So what do you think? Does ambient proximity appeal to you more than exact location sharing? Let us know in the comments!