AOL building a social network around MapQuest

mqvibeAOL is reportedly interested in getting into the social networking game and resurrecting its struggling MapQuest platform to do so. MapQuest, once the direction site of choice in its hay day, has since been bested by Google Maps and is seeing increasing competition from Bing Maps—largely in thanks to their mobile presence. But now, AOL is rumored to plan a social network around the directions site, pairing geo-social and local together.

But will connecting Internet trends result in success? The site, now renamed mqVibe, won’t try to take on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, or even Google+. AOL doesn’t appear to be interested in launching a large-scale social network that will pull hundreds of millions of users and serve as a media distributor.

Instead, mqVibe seems to be focused on the Yelp, Foursquare, Gowalla social space—a decidedly smaller but still popular social platform. The geo-social meets local business genre is still emerging: We’re still trying to figure out if this is a profitable market and what sort of effects it can have. Groupon’s infamous IPO process is proof enough of this in-flux industry.

That said, AOL does have most of the puzzle pieces available to put something like this together. MapQuest is an established site, and this might be exactly what AOL needs to give its struggling local news network Patch a purpose. The blog platform has been called a major overinvestment that continues to plague AOL, but its Patch Deals coupon curator transformed into some sort of geo-social, map-centric network could be the overhaul it needs for sustainability.

Do we expect mqVibe to steal any of its competitors’ thunder? We’re not so sure. It will likely be able to rival Gowalla and Yelp, but Foursquare’s current momentum seems unstoppable. And the real behemoth of them all could quickly become Google. The site has proved it’s serious about daily deals with its recent purchase of DealMap and expansion of Google Offers, and of course Google Maps remains consumers’ top choice for navigation. Not to mention that Google has a mobile OS to promote all this on–which will continue to include NFC technology that will make mobile purchases that much easier. That’s some formidable competition, and while we don’t expect mqVibe to take down Google geo-social efforts, it could be an antidote to the challenges it’s faced with Patch and connect the dots between a few currently isolated services.

Social Media

Instagram says its A.I. can track down bullying in photos

Instagram is turning to artificial intelligence to help it root out bullying on its platform. Following similar efforts to target bullying in comments, the company now has systems capable of detecting bullying in photos, too.
Home Theater

What is Hulu with Live TV? Here’s everything you need to know

Hulu with Live TV is a different take on a live TV streaming service, directly integrating live TV into the Hulu app you already know and perhaps love. We've put together a guide with everything you need to know about the service.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.
Home Theater

Dish Network or DirecTV: Which is the better choice for you?

So, you’ve chosen to go with a satellite television provider. Check out our quick rundown of what both Dish Network and DirecTV offer in terms of content, hardware, and pricing, and why you might choose them over streaming services.
Cars

Carbuying can be exhausting: Here are the best used car websites to make it easier

Shopping for a used car isn't easy, especially when the salesman is looking to make a quick sale. Thankfully, there are plenty of sites aimed at the prospective buyer, whether you're looking for a sedan or a newfangled hybrid.
Social Media

Snapchat is using VR to let you step inside its new original shows

Tuning in to your favorite shows not enough? Snap Originals will allow viewers to set into a virtual set. The new exclusive shows debut today with three different shows. Snap Originals are vertical, short, and exclusive to the platform.
Social Media

3D Facebook photos jump out of the newsfeed, no glasses needed

You're not seeing things -- that photo in your Facebook newsfeed is 3D. Launching today, 3D Facebook Photos use the depth maps from dual-lens smartphones to add dimension to an image as you move your phone.
Social Media

Instagram is testing a new way for you to look through your feed

Instagram is constantly tweaking its app to help give its users the best experience possible, so how do you like the sound of tapping — instead of swiping — to look through your feed?
Computing

Was your Facebook account hacked in the latest breach? Here’s how to find out

Facebook now reports that its latest data breach affected only 30 million users, down from an initial estimate of 50 million accounts. You can also find out if hackers had accessed your account by visiting a dedicated portal.
Mobile

Hinge's new feature wants to know who you've gone out on dates with

With its new "We Met" feature, Hinge wants to learn how your dates are going with matches in its app. That way, it can inject the information into its algorithm to provide future recommendations that better suit its users' preferences.
Social Media

Like a pocketable personal stylist, Pinterest overhauls shopping tools

Pinterest shopping just got a bit better with a trio of updates now rolling out to Pinterest. The first replaces Buyable Pins with Product Pins for more features, including knowing whether or not a product is in stock.
Smart Home

Facebook’s new Portal device can collect your data to target your ads

Facebook confirmed that its new Portal smart displays, designed to enable Messenger-enabled video calls, technically have the capability to gather data on users via the camera and mic onboard.
Social Media

YouTube is back after crashing for users around the world

It's rare to see YouTube suffer serious issues, but the site went down around the world for a period of time on October 16. It's back now, and we can confirm it's loading normally on desktop and mobile.
Social Media

Twitter has sorted out those weird notifications it was sending

Twitter started churning out weird notifications of seemingly nonsensical letters and numbers to many of its users on Tuesday morning. The bizarre incident even prompted Twitter boss Jack Dorsey to get involved.