They’ve been around for a couple of years now, and with more and more people switching over to Android & iPhone phones they’re getting more and more popular: Location-based social networking services.
Some of the better known sites at the moment are: Foursquare (4SQ), Gowalla, SCVNGR and, for people on the move, Waze. (There’s also Facebook Places, but since that’s not available yet in my area I will not be including it in this post. Others, like Loopt, do not support both Android & iPhone and are therefor not worth considering IMHO…)
First of all I would like to address the privacy issues: Apps like these allow people to see where you are/have been, and when. Potentially it also tells them the opposite: they can see when you are not at home. Luckily both Foursquare and Gowalla have good privacy settings where you can fine tune yourself what gets seen by both your friends and by the rest. I would strongly recommend limiting the visibility of your wherabouts so that only your friends can see where you are. (And choose your friends wisely. Don’t accept just any incoming friend request…)
Foursquare & Gowalla are pretty much identical. Gowalla started in 2007, Foursquare in 2009. Both are mobile web applications that allows users to check-in to locations that they visit using their mobile device.
Since they are so similar many people wonder of course which one to use, since it’s clear that on the long term probably only 1 of them will survive.
Well, that is a question I can’t answer at the moment… If I look purely at the userbase, Foursquare is the one to go for, with over 4 million users, vs. around 0.6 million for Gowalla.
But don’t write off Gowalla just yet: Disney has decided to partner with them — rather than Facebook or Foursquare — for an immersive location-based campaign to help people explore Disneyworld and Disneyland parks. Check out Gowalla’s Disney page for more on this.
Which one I am using at the moment, you might wonder? All of the above! 😉
Yes, I have Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR & Waze all installed on my phone and try to make it a habit to check in on the first 3 mentioned apps wherever I arrive, and have Waze up and running while driving to those places. (Only while riding shotgun, of course!)