According to Media Daily Online, 7 percent of mobile users and 17 percent of smartphone users “check in” to report their location to social networks.
I’m one of them. For the past few months, I’ve been happily using the location check-in app Foursquare. It’s has a colorful and user-friendly interface, quite a number of my friends are using it, and there’s nothing to complain about.
Here’s how it works:
You open the app, tap Places, and it searches for locations near you. In most instances, it’ll list the restaurant, store, park or other place you’re at. It displays a list of other Foursquare users who have checked in recently, and sometimes lists of tips (from users) or specials (from the business). You then have an option of checking in (to earn points) and the additional options of having your check-in shared with friends on Foursquare or with the world at large via Twitter.
But I’m aware that other friends are using the rival app called Gowalla, which apparently does much the same thing.
So I set out to discover what I was either missing or being spared. I quickly discovered I’m in the middle of what Mashable called “the location war.”
Here’s the view from the trenches:
• Earlier this year, Gowalla released a version that uses Foursquare data (by harvesting data via Foursquare’s API). Now, apparently, you can get the best of all check-in worlds. For example, Gowalla aggregates check-ins from Foursquare, Gowalla and the Facebook “Places” feature.
• The new version of Gowalla added the option to leave tips not just for the general public, but for specific individuals. If your friend checks in at a place you’ve been, you can leave them a tip such as “Don’t order the cole slaw, Hank, it has onions!”
• Interestingly, Gowalla uses GPS data to verify that you are where you say you are when you check in. Foursquare doesn’t, so it can generate fake check-ins. Would anyone care if you say you’re at the gym when you’re really at the cupcake shop? Well, yes, if you’re in a competition to be become a Foursquare “Mayor” (most frequent visitor) at a place. (Details on this via TechCrunch)
Earlier this month, Mashable reported the Gowalla may be ready to cede the check-in space to Foursquare (which is apparently being eyed by Groupon and other “deals” companies) to provide users with a different service, which a Gowalla executive described as “giving permanence to special moments.”
This made me curious enough to at least try Gowalla. Any advice from those of you who started with Gowalla and switched to Foursquare?
- Should Groupon Acquire Foursquare? (mashable.com)