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Review: Brightkite

October 23, 2008
Overview Brightkite is another entry into the magnanimous collection of lifestreaming tools and apps. It goes up against Twitter and even Facebook which significantly improved its status-streaming abilities this year. It may even knock off some lesser knowns like Plurk and Pownce.


Brightkite combines the location services of apps like Whrrl and nrme with the microblogging features. With BK, you "check in" at a location by simply allowing your iPhone to place you. You can save placemarks for future use, and you can also view your friends' activity streams. In addition, you can view nearby folks, much like Twinkle's nearby feature. Unfortunately, since Brightkite is still in Beta, you probably won't see a lot of folks nearby. An invitation is relatively easy to score at this point. Simply email the good folks at Brightkite, and you should have a shiny invite waiting in your inbox quickly.

It's pretty easy to understand for first-time users as far as usability goes. I kept thinking it "looks" vaguely familiar, and after searching through my cobwebbed mental database, I pulled out the LinkedIn app that was reviewed a while back. It has some striking similarities as you can see below:

Overall, I've been using Brightkite for the past few days with pleasure, but with only one major, future-use blocking caveat: how am I going to get my Twitter buddies to convert over en masse? Brightkite still being in Beta... they may have shot themselves in the foot with a late entry to the game.

However, while there is no way to connect to other social sites through the iPhone app, you can connect Brightkite to Flickr, Twitter, Facebook,, LinkedIn, and MySpace so that updates you make on BK are also made there. You have to go to Account Settings on their webpage (after receiving an invite and registering), then to Profile. To connect to Twitter, you have to click on the Sharing tab. It has some other custom features as to what you send to Twitter which are nice.

Overall, BK feels a lot like Pownce, and I suspect that will be their primary competition. It's like fighting for second place at this point since Twitter seems to be reigning king of the microblog hill (Facebook users may dispute that.).


Brightkite has a lot going for it - its cohesive use of LBS (location-based services) and microblogging are something that many other apps have struggled to get right. The landscape is littered with apps that just haven't quite made it. With that being said, I'd encourage you to try it out. Heck, it's free. What do you have to lose except a few minutes. We'll have to wait until it goes mainstream to see if BK will capture the microblogging hearts of the free world.

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