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Loopt 4 introduces Facebook Places integration and automatic location sharing

loopt 4 home screenLoopt, one of the earliest entries in the location-based social networking game, has recently been overshadowed by players like Gowalla and Foursquare. But Loopt is back with Loopt 4.0, which offers a complete redesign, integration with Facebook Places, and a real-time location tracker reminiscent of Google Latitude. Although it lacks the buzz of its location-based brethren, Loopt still has 4 million users(!), and this new app should push that number even higher.

Loopt's Facebook integration has now caught up with Gowalla: you can sync your own checkins between Loopt and FB and see your friends' Facebook checkins on Loopt. Loopt 4 also looks a lot like the Facebook iPhone app. The home screen and notifications bar will definitely feel familiar to FB junkies.

Perhaps the coolest new feature in Loopt 4 is the auto-location sharing toggle. You'll find a switch on the homepage to turn automatic sharing on or off. When it's on, it functions much like Google Latitude, updating your location via GPS, without the need to check in. Because that's an awful lot to share publicly, auto-sharing has its own set of privacy settings, so you can limit it to your close friends.

Loopt has also added a "pong" feature to its existing "ping." Ping was a way of nudging a friend to ask for a location update. Now you can attach a message to that ping, and your friend can respond with a "pong" tagged with their location. Basically, it's text-messaging plus location.

So with a couple of exclusive features, and a few familiar ones that just play catchup with Gowalla and Foursquare, Loopt might be right back in the middle of the location fray. For a closer look at the new Loopt, check out the official demo video after the break.

Tags: checkin, location, location-based, loopt