Last week, I wrote about check-in fatigue. While there is a lot of excitement right now surrounding location-based apps, and particularly the ones where you “check-in” places, trying to use all of them can be exhausting, as I found out at SXSW. So what’s the solution? Do you just pick one and stick with it? You could, but there’s no guarantee that all of your friends will pick the same one as you. So the guys behind Brightkite have a better solution.
Check.in is an application that lets you check-in with multiple services at the same time. Or, as they put it, it’s “on check-in to rule them all.” While the team showed it to me briefly at SXSW (and CrunchGear got some video of it in action), they’ve actually given me access to it now to play around with. And I’m happy to report that it works great.
So how does it work? Well, for the time being it’s actually a mobile web app. Eventually, the plan is to release a native app version for the different platforms, but in order to get it out there relatively quickly, they made a web version that works on mobile browser that offer HTML5 support for location (currently the iPhone and Android phones). When you load it up, the browser asks for permission to pull your coordinates, and a few seconds later it pulls up a list of venues it believes you’re near. When you click on one, the app does some “magical matching” to find the venue across the various services. (If it’s unsure it asks you to confirm the venue for each different service — a bit tedious, but it goes fast as it’s just one click.) You’re then taken to the final check-in page where you can leave an optional message (which will also get sent to each of the services) and if you’re good to go, you simply hit the check-in button, and you’re done.
Currently, Check.in works with three services: Brightkite (of course), Foursquare, and Gowalla. But it’s important to note that the team is likely going to have to pull Gowalla support because that service doesn’t yet technically support writing to their API (only reading from it). Check.in found a work-around through an undocumented API. Still, the Check.in team hopes to add other services quickly as check-in APIs become available.
So how much time does Check.in save? At least a few minutes just for the three aforementioned services that it currently works with. Remember, checking-in with all of these apps requires not only that you open each one, but that you wait to pull friend data and location data before you can check-in. Check.in cuts out most of that load time by removing the friend element, and doing the location loads all at once.
If they’re able to get all the services playing nicely with their check-in APIs, Check.in is going to be the perfect solution for check-in fatigue. But don’t be surprised if one of the bigger players, like Facebook, are thinking about this as well.
Check.in will be launching in beta very shortly.