Today brings two different news items from two huge companies both related to the same thing: check-ins. This morning, All Facebook found an area of Facebook’s site pointing to the ability to check-in to events. And just now, Google has pushed an update to their Latitude iPhone app to allow users to check-in for the first time also. Is a new check-in war brewing?
Well, yes and no.
Neither of these updates today by themselves are huge — just yet. Facebook has had the ability to check-in via their Places service for several months now (though the feature is still rolling out worldwide). Google, meanwhile, added check-ins to Latitude on Android this past February (and noted that it would be coming for the iPhone too). But both of the subtle updates today point to big things.
First of all, Facebook has confirmed to us that the ability to check-in to events is coming shortly to their massively popular iPhone app. For the time being, it will be iPhone and touch.facebook.com-only, though you can assume that Android will gain the feature down the road as well. This has the potential to be a great feature because Facebook Events are so widely used. And letting your friends know you’re actually at a party you RSVP’d for adds an important location layer to the experience.
It also opens the door to other cool possibilities for events. What if only people checked-in to the event could message each other? Or what if only they could share pictures to the event’s Wall? What if an event wanted to give away prizes via Facebook to those actually there? There are a lot of possibilities.
Meanwhile, checking in on Latitude on the iPhone brings the ability to the platform that first made the functionality popular (via Foursquare on the iPhone). Latitude has been around for several years and has a few million users, but they have mainly been passive users, just sharing their location in the background. The check-in allows them to be active, and get rewards and deals associated with that.
This is a big part of Google’s plan in the local space — yes, a plan that puts them right up against Facebook, Foursquare, Groupon, and others. And whether Google likes it or not, the iPhone is an important part of this plan. And with this update, people may actually start using the service on the iPhone now.
In the Latitude check-ins for iPhone announcement, Google also snuck in the news that Google Places is now in 30 languages. Again, all a part of the big push into local and deals.
Just like Facebook. And Foursquare. The war is on.