Best social networking apps of 2010

Dec 29, 2010
Tech

This has been a big year for all things social networking. From movies (The Social Network), to people (Time’s Person of the Year, Mark Zuckerberg), to shopping (Groupon’s collective buying power), 2010 has been a year of doing things together, even when apart. Although I didn’t see many stand-out social-networking apps for iPhone and iPod […]

This has been a big year for all things social networking. From movies (The Social Network), to people (Time’s Person of the Year, Mark Zuckerberg), to shopping (Groupon’s collective buying power), 2010 has been a year of doing things together, even when apart. Although I didn’t see many stand-out social-networking apps for iPhone and iPod Touch that were new to the App Store this year, several mainstays rolled out quality updates, giving each new life in 2010.

Facebook (free) jumped on the geo-location bandwagon in August, rolling out its Places functionality. The GPS integration lets users check in to places, and tag other Facebook friends at the same locale. Much was discussed about Facebook’s privacy issues — you might not want your friends to see where you are, or to tag your location — but Places is catching on, both among private users and through corporate incentives (Gap’s November deal for free jeans, for instance).

Where Facebook’s Places is having a slow burn, the check-in service Foursquare (free) seems to be on fire. With many competitors in the check-in market (with its focus on the gaming aspect of checking-in, Whrrl is an excellent alternative, for example), Foursquare has become ubiquitous, with a user base of more than four million and growing. Foursquare still doesn’t support photos paired with its check-ins or status updates, and even though the app hasn’t made any major strides in its 2010 updates, social networking can’t be discussed without a mention.

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Related: Best iPhone apps of 2010

For months Twitter went without an official app for iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, but then the social network acquired Tweetie 2, rebranding the popular app Twitter (free). Power Twitter users might still hold a preference to other non-official tweeting apps, but official Twitter kept the best parts of Tweetie, and recently integrated support for push notifications. This long-awaited addition poses Twitter to be the ultimate Twitter app for 2011, and that’s probably how it should be.

Even though it’s specific to iPad, one can’t leave Flipboard (free) off the “best of” lists for the year. Named Apple’s 2010 iPad app of the year, Flipboard’s latest update integrated Google Reader and Flickr feeds and two-way Facebook and Twitter. The app isn’t solely used for social networking, but its interface display for Facebook and Twitter feeds has ushered in a new era for app design.

Related: New smartphone/iDevice this holiday? Download these apps first

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