lostThere is a lot going on. A LOT.

Last week I stayed in New York City for the Good Exchange and I needed a place to get dinner. Beyond the old-school method of asking the hotel desk for recommendations, I had the world of mobile and social media in my purse. Although GPS didn’t work so well in the city, the location-based applications still proved useful.

Years ago, I used my first location-based app, FourSquare. Collecting points and becoming the Mayor was fun and the integration with Facebook instantly showed my friends where I was. It was addictive, and then I got bored. Sure a few places would offer incentives to check-in with the FourSquare logo sticker near the front door and $1 off an appetizer, but the hassle out-weighed the benefits. Wandering around NYC, I didn’t want to check-in anywhere; I wanted to find a place to go.

That’s when I remembered Swarm. FourSquare created Swarm about a month ago and it is a social planning proximity app. With Swarm, I was able to send out a question to my friends in the area (even those I didn’t realize were around) about a good place for dinner and if they’d like to join. I was also able to see who was nearby and just how close they were. Joining up with a friend I didn’t know lived in NYC at a delicious hole-in-the-wall restaurant wouldn’t have been possible without using the contextual app.

Just like AirPatrol is bringing our locationing capabilities to a wide variety of uses ranging from federal mobile security to BYOD to retail, locationing is feeding our phones. To keep it fresh, vendors are redoing current apps with user feedback and privacy is a driving force – opt-in will always be more favorable than opt-out, how close you may be to another is somewhat vague (for example, within 500ft), and with whom you share your information is highly tailored.

It’s all about increasing relevance. Ad targeting is annoying and drains your battery if it doesn’t involve smart elements. Technology that isn’t context-aware is becoming outdated as we expect more out of our devices. The term cognitive computing has taken a back seat to the sexy Internet of Things and BYOD but its elements are far from disappearing. In fact, they’re every part of being context-aware and are sure to outlast some hot fads today.

Swarm is proving to be useful because of the relevant alerting system. As phones become more contextually aware, they’re finally operating like the smart devices we’ve always wanted. With everything going on around us, it’ll be great to have a relevant filter in my hand.