Twitter Places API Gains New Data Partners

Twitter Places API Gains New Data Partners

December 8, 2010 by Christina Warren

Twitter has just expanded and enhanced the location layer of its API.

The changes will make it easier for developers to interface with various datasets and offer better location-based experiences within their apps.

When Twitter Places launched back in June, it was clear that with the right implementations, the implications of a geo-aware Twitter could be vast.

Over the course of the last six months however, the location layer within tweets really hasn’t been used beyond the official apps and a smattering of services. Location-based networks such as Foursquare and Gowalla could associate a check-in tweet with Twitter Places; but for external apps, surfacing this data hasn’t really been possible.

As Developer Advocate Matt Harris posted to the Twitter API Announcements Google Group, that may soon change.

Twitter now has more extensive information for finding tweets about places using the place operator in the Search API.

Here’s the interesting part: This operator isn’t limited just to the Twitter Places data set. Rather, developers can also call up data sets from a variety of partners, including A&E Television Networks and History, Gowalla, OpenTable, TomTom, Yellow Pages Group (Canada) and Zagat.

This means developers, using the data set alias for any of these providers, can access search information about a specific location.

Where this really has immediate potential is with developers who are already interacting with one of the partner data sets. For instance, if your web app already plugs into OpenTable to offer restaurant information, you can now easily add recent tweets from that location to your app.

Interestingly, two of the biggest data sets, Facebook Places and Foursquare, are not on Twitter’s partner list. Facebook we can understand; Facebook Places is very much a mobile offering at this point in time. Foursquare’s omission is less clear. Foursquare data can still be mapped to Twitter Places when a checkin is tweeted by Foursquare, so we don’t understand the omission of the data set on the other end.

Perhaps the rumored upcoming Foursquare API extension will answer some of these questions.

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