The concept of “checking-in” has become popular in the location space. But as the concept gains popularity through the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla there’s no reason it can’t be extended beyond location. A new iPhone sports app, FanPulse, takes the idea of checking-in to sporting events — that you don’t have to be at, just be watching.
And the app comes at a perfect time, as of course, the Super Bowl is this weekend. If you’re unable to watch the game with some of your friends, FanPulse offers an interesting way to interact with them about the game in realtime. If you check-in to the Super Bowl between the Colts and the Saints, it will show up on your friends’ main Pulse stream within the app. If they click on that item, they’ll be taken to an area where they can also check-in to the game. From here you, and any other friends that join the area, can chat about it as you watch the game.
Yes, it’s sort of like setting up an online chat room or group IM session, but the app has other benefits. First, it’s on the iPhone, so you don’t need your computer out to chat. Second, the app gives you Push Notification updates for the game, as well as other games you may be interested in following — so you can multitask. Third, by “shouting” (their word for sending a message), you can also send these messages out to Twitter or Facebook with one click to update your statuses on those networks.
The app is most similar to Hot Potato, which allows you to connect with your friends around events. But the emphasis with FanPulse is only on sports, and the interaction is different because it’s more IM-like rather than leaving comments. And obviously, there’s very much an emphasis on interacting in realtime.
When you sign up for FanPulse, you tell it the teams you’d like to follow. This allows the app to serve up news items about those teams in the Pulse area, as well as suggest games you might want to check-in to. There are also the usual mechanisms for finding which friends from other networks (Twitter and Facebook) are also using the service. Or you can find them by accessing your iPhone’s address book.
FanPulse was built out of Pier 38 in San Francisco, also known as the Dogpatch Labs. The company was started by Vishwas Prabhakara, a former BD at Digg. You can find FanPulse in the App Store here for free.