Posts tagged #Check-in

Kicking The Tires: Proximity Check-In Apps That Are Not Foursquare

 Brightkite: is a location-based social networking website that is available on any mobile device. Users "check in" at places by using text messaging or one of the mobile applications and they can see who is nearby and who has been there before. The service was created in 2007 by Brady Becker, Martin May and Alan Seideman who previously founded the SMS notification service Loopnote.

Pro's: Nice interface and it good social features. Group text is intriguing.

Con's: Less 'game play' then I've come to expect. Feels like it needs a lot more to stay competitive.

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Friends Around: Friends Around is a mobile app for interacting with friends 24/7 across social networks without being tied to a computer. It’s a free iPhone app developed by Zila Networks LLC, a Miami based start-up.

Pro's: A lot of rating based feedback from uploaded photos.

Con's: Cumbersome to add new people and just not that much fun yet. I relies that the mapping function [should] be cool but it's too early for engagement. This app too needs to get more feature rich to compete I'm affraid.

Side Note: I did see a lot of late teen - early twenties male demo on this at an NFL game I checked into this weekend. I'm not sure what, if anything that means.

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Waze: Waze is a social mobile application providing free turn-by-turn navigation based on the live conditions of the road.
100% powered by users, the more you drive, the better it gets.

Pro's: This is a turn-by-turn GPS application yes, it's also a bit of social gaming. What I LIKE about Waze is it combines the intelligence of Trapster and adds a dash of game play. You unlock points and seniority by the amount of mileage you drive while using it, that's a bit of a pro and con to me.

Con's: There's a lot going on. They could invest in some UI testinging as well. Also, rule number one with wayfinding, name it what everyone else names it. Don't call "Directions" "Drive To" call it directions and everyone (mainly me) will be happy.

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Whrrl: Whrrl 3.0 is a social location-based game to get people out into the world trying new things. Users become members of "Whrrl Societies" based on their real-world passions. As of August 2010, there were more than 3,000 Whrrl Societies. Whrrlers earn "influence points" as they try new things themselves and successfully inspire others to try things, and they share ("prove") their adventures by sharing photos and text with friends and other Society members.

Pro's: First, the app looks and responds beautifully. Elegant animations and transition screens abound. It's powered by BING.com which proves to offer a lot of initial data respectively. The app's a bit advanced to a user unaccustomed to a check-in environments.  As you're checking in, it's making you a founder to established locations and creator of societies of influence. Very cool, but a bit heady given that you're new to proximity based (location based) applications.

Con's: A lot to take on if it's your first but I don't have any outstanding fails – yet.

The Future of FourSquare

I'm not going to bore you with 'FourSquare 101' as I'm beginning to understand that a number of my readers are well adept to the industry and are actually for more from me. FourSquare, being the front-runner with Gowalla and Facebook quick on its heels, currently has the industry lead. But geo-located checkins are the name of the game and everyone wants a piece of the action.

OK, fine, here's a quick Wiki 101 on FourSquare:
Foursquare is a web and mobile application that allows registered users to connect with friends and update their location. Points are awarded for "checking in" at venues. Users can choose to have their Twitter and/or their Facebook accounts updated when they check in. In version 1.3 of their iPhone application, Foursquare enabled push-notification of friend updates, which they call "Pings." Users can also earn badges by checking in at locations with certain tags, for check-in frequency or for other patterns such as time of check-in.

 

The possible future for FourSquare and its developing competitors may look like this:

User-Empowerment –
There still is little that we can control about FourSquare. We have a profile, yes. We have awesome statistics on our locations, as well! But minimal customization for profiling and no direct way to embed the essence of the application within our own content (blogs, etc.) short of referencing locations back to the application. I'm seeing that in the future, people should not only be able to create rewards, badges and develop more robust incentive strategies – but allow for more visual customization of profiles and business pages. And I can't post photos to locations – why?

Increased rating ability –
"Shout outs" are great but sharing tips and extending rating to a user’s base, I think, will become more important, as well. Regardless of circumstance, FourSquare needs to extend greater ability for users to give both positive and negative (constructive, ideally) criticism to locations.

Sort ‘till my heart’s content –
I'd like to see greater sorting ability within categories, allowing users to cluster locations and send them to friends, perhaps, thus “incentivizing” them to checkin to those locations for "Justice's BFF Badge" or the likes.

Increase conversation –
Much like comment fields, forums and Google Buzz, we need to see great threaded conversation about checkins. Beyond simply rating things, we need conversations to take place about checkins in a more fulfilling manner. Wait and see – this might open a wonderful door for surveys and polling assisting businesses know what their customers really want.

Mobile application co-ops –
When developing location based applications for GPS-enabled devices in the future, FourSquare’s current API needs to be easier to use and more robust than ever. We're seeing a wave of applications coming to a screaming close because they were simply too short-sited to let others work cooperatively with them, and while FourSquare has done this admirably, it needs to continue and embrace doing so.

Nesting services, brands and communities –
Frankly, FourSquare's hot right now in the marketplace. And too expensive to work for given that you have a small brand that could successfully utilize their services. FourSquare (and all proximity-based applications) needs to be careful not to outsell themselves. Once the cache of this technology becomes normality, business models better be in place to service all takers before the Facebooks of the world make it as easy as creating a "Like" page.

Mapping exploration -
Loopt does a mediocre job of giving you an idea ‘where yo dawgs is @’ but it needs significant improvement. I'd love to see more mapping functionality, combined with photos and real-time connectivity with my followers. While, indeed, it does seem a little creepy, I think while we preach privacy we still want connectivity within the groups we trust. It would also be great to see sorting within these groups as well. If I'm downtown, click, there's my nightlife in a single action.

More game play –
Gowalla seems to have an edge with game play on graphics and allowing for "Founders" of locations, but it still seems thin to me. Watch the future of these applications look to Internet-based gaming and watch things like "clans" and levels come out it. Before you know it you'll be buying a Slurpee trying to get 'Titanium Mayor.'

Badges!!! –
I LOVE badges! And while I don't think they should be as easy to construct as Facebook "flair," I do think theye should be more badges for greater minutiae. I understand that it's part of FourSquare’s business model to construct and sell badges within a branded construct, but those badges should be held with greater exclusivity than user-created or 'minor' badges. Perhaps there's more of a user-based submission on evolutionary contests for badge creation?

Better rewards –
We need better rewards. While badges and points ARE cool, they're going to eventually be the Achilles heel to the product. With great loyalty should come great “incentivizing.” WeReward.com and others are seeing that there's real traction in garnering users by giving it away. FourSquare needs to start thinking about a better treatment of the people that do rack up the points. With 100+ to 1000+ users out there, you're seeing a real-time commitment with no current payoff.

Addendum to last point: When I was writing this post this came to light a day later -  Foursquare Now Experimenting with Badge Rewards

Previous FourSquare related articles:

Information for businesses wanting to get involved with location-based marketing, go here:

Nerd Merit Badges, I <3 U!

The Physical/Digital Ethics Of FourSquare & Gowalla

Much like calling "punch-buggy" or "shotgun" ('calling the front passengers seat of the car) there are unwritten rules or ethics about a great many things. Like, you can't call shotgun in a building, everyone must be outside; or with punch-buggy there's grey mysticism around whether you must call out the color first or not before bringing the pain.

Well as my wife, a very highly competitive person and consiquently a lover of digital games (i.e. Mafia Wars, Vampire Wars, Farmville and most traditional gaming platforms) and I are now on FourSquare (and I'm on Gowalla too) together. We're starting to see way one could cheat, or manipulate the system to get ahead of the game – so to speak. Therefore on an "Overshare Badge" weekend we started to discuss the physical and digital ethics of FourSquare and like-minded applications. I thought it so compelling I figured that I would open it up and see what 'rules' you have applied to your own FourSquaring, Gowalla–ing and related check-in applications.

Here are just a few to get started thinking (or debating):

  • If there's a Starbuck's inside a Target do they count as two stops?
  • Can you rack up stops in a mall by shop-hopping?
  • If you're in a restaurant and you know you're going to go to some place afterwards do you check-in then, or only once you've stepped foot in the place?
  • Can you check into a gas station if you're the passenger and didn't go inside?
  • If you live somewhere that has a check-in how close do you have to be in order to get that location gratis? (i.e. Live in a golf-course community can you check into the club house if you live nearby?)
  • Should you make your home a check-in?
  • Cross streets, should you be able to check-in or not?
  • How long do you have to be at a location before you can make it a check in?
  • Picking someone up from the airport, does that count as a check-in?
  • Can you check into a place twice, in the same visit, if you've been there for a long time? If so how long?
  • Can you create a fictitious place and check-in that location?
  • Can you assign a city as a location and check into that location?
  • If you leave work and return the same day should you check-in again?

While there's no right on wrong answer here; I can see a whole new world of people pissed because someone took shotgun and didn't do it by the book!