Gowalla Finally Releases Their Check-In API With Some Nice Tools And OAuth 2 Support

You could make an argument that one of the things holding back the growth of location-based service Gowalla was that there was no full API support. After all, rival Foursquare has had their full API rocking and rolling since last November. But after today, you won’t be able to make that argument anymore.

Gowalla has just formally announced that their Check-In API is now available to all developers. This is an extension of the API Gowalla released this past February. Notably, that API was read-only — but today’s addition brings full write capabilities to the Gowalla ecosystem as well.

Third-party developers have been asking for this write-support for a long time. When I talked to co-founder Josh Williams earlier this year, he said that write-support was always in the plans, they just had to figure out how to do it the right way. With the use of OAuth 2, they believe they’ve found the way.

OAuth 2 is considered to be a more secure version of remote authentication. If you’ve been following the development of OAuth WRAP at all, that has been deprecated in favor of OAuth 2. Companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo having been working on the idea for some time now, and Facebook even used FriendFeed as a testing ground for it.

Says Gowalla about OAuth 2:

With today’s release, we’re expanding what’s possible, enabling your applications to create check-ins on behalf of users. This is made possible by our implementation of OAuth 2.0, which allows users to securely grant access to their Gowalla accounts.

Gowalla has also updated their API Explorer tool to showcase what data you can access with their API. Like most things on Gowalla, the feature looks slick.

A number of third parties have been using Gowalla’s API for some time now to build interesting tools such as GowallaWalk — a nice looking app that shows you where you’ve been in a visual way. There are also some tools, like Check.in, that have been using work-arounds in Gowalla’s API to check users in even without full support. Now they’ll presumably be able to do that legally.