The hyperlocal trend keeps on growing as more and more companies start hyperlocal efforts. The latest one to launch is TapIn, an iPod and iPhone app by the people behind Tackable, an app designed to make newsgathering easy. TapIn, however, is something more ambitious, as it combines several elements that are found in other location-based apps in order to disseminate and gather news.
"We think that it's going to serve as an interesting prototype for the newspaper of the future," Tackable's chief marketing officer Luke Stangel said to Poynter. At the heart of TapIn is the idea of location-based news filtering. It may not be the ideal solution for all situations, as Poynter noted, but can work very well for news outlets that concentrate on community news.
For now, TapIn uses content from the MediaNews Group's newspapers in the San Francisco Bay region, but it already has plans to expand to Los Angeles and Denver markets, where MediaNews has more newspapers.
As for it's funding, TapIn is considering an original solution: its users would pay to use the app but could earn points by engaging with it - by commenting, sharing content and clicking ads, for example - that could be redeemed for free access or other rewards. Poynter noted that there are several benefits to the approach. For one, people are presumably less hesitant to pay if they know they can get their money back later. It also gives an incentive for users to engage with and keep using the app.
In addition to functioning as a news delivery platform, TapIn makes use of Groupon-style daily deals much in the manner of Foursquare. GigaOM discussed this feature, noting that TapIn allows newspapers to offer readers deals based on their location.
GigaOM also noted that TapIn and Tackable cover some of the same ground. According to Stangel, who spoke to Columbia Journalism Review, the "Gigs" function in TapIn is essentially the original Tackable product. In the case of TapIn, the function is intentionally left open to see how the public starts using it.
As for long-term content production, Stangel said that the ideal goal would be to expand so that newspapers owned by different media companies would provide content for the app. Stangel said that location-based news removes the editor from the equation - users see news based on their location, not based on the news' possible importance - but his plan is to bring some kind of editorial touch into the process. He also said that the team would keep on developing the app and introducing new features to it.
Newsonomics discussed TapIn, saying that it does have the potential to become a prototypical product for the news industry. But to get there, the app needs to import a lot of content. Although it has many similar features to other apps, in some areas it lags behind them.
The app may show plenty of promise, but the next step is to attract an enough big and active user base for it to take off - a step where many other promising apps have failed.