Home Hands on with Check.in

Hands on with Check.in

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been using Check.in, the browser-based “check in” application that registers your current location with a variety of location-based social networking applications, including Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, Whrrl and TriOut. The app was cooked up by the Brightkite team in an effort to simplify the process of using multiple services such as these, an ongoing frustration among LBS (location-based-services) early adopters.

So how did it fare? Not bad at all, if I do say so myself.

First, full disclosure: I’m not what you would call a heavy user of location-based social networking services. I have no mayorships. I visit incredibly boring places. I only started using Gowalla so I could try out Check.in.

However, I’m not so old and boring (yet) that I can’t see the appeal of these services. In my younger, more active days – before I was tied down to a life of diaper runs and other errands – an app like Brightkite or Foursquare would have been a blast to use. But sadly, I never got to experience those types of services back when they would have been the most fun for me – heck, I don’t think any of my college friends even had cell phones. (You kids have it so good, you have no idea).

That being said, I really enjoyed using Check.in. It was incredibly easy to use, always found my location accurately and worked without error or crashes.

My only complaint was that the app was slow at times, even when I had a good signal, although that could be due to the fact that it was still in private beta. Perhaps they haven’t thrown enough computing power behind it yet?

Sometimes this slowness, which often occurred during the “magical place matching” screen, was a major issue. When doing drive-by check-ins (a.k.a. “quick stops”), for example, I found myself leaving the venue before the processing was done. Curse you Starbucks drive-thrus and your speedy service! I will never be mayor!

We Need a Place-Matching Database

Another issue, and one that Brightkite has no control over, is the lack of a unified places database, as TechCrunch mentioned earlier this morning. Brightkite is on board with this idea, but the other major players need to agree, too, in order for it to work.

What this means in terms of app usability, though, is that you often have to tell it that Location X on this service is the same as Location Y on that service. Check.in, for what it’s worth, walks you through this process with ease, but it can slow down check-in time even further.

In other words, if you feel stupid “checking in” to places and try to get it over with quickly before you have to explain yourself to your non-early-adopter friends and family, Check.in won’t solve that problem – it makes it worse.

Solid, Well-Built App

Outside of these inconveniences, neither of which are necessarily Brightkite’s problem, I can report that Check.in is a solid, well-built app. As you check in to the various services via Check.in, the app also returns relevant data, new mayorships, points, etc.

The app has also been improved during the beta period with better, tighter privacy controls, and sharing settings for posting to Twitter and Facebook.

Insights and Future Plans

The Brightkite team shared a few early insights from their beta trials, which involved 6,000 users and 135,000 check-ins. The average user checked in 20 times, more than 2.3 million places were queried and most users checked in to two or three services at once. Friday is the busiest day for check-ins and Sunday is the quietest.

The team now wants your feedback as to what needs to be added or improved next. They’ve asked Yelp to open up its API, but so far the company has said no. We suggest it consider adding another major LBS player, Loopt. According to the Brightkite blog, it appears that service is also considering Check.in integration into Brightkite’s native apps, a decision that could easily make Brightkite the top LBS-based app across multiple platforms.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.