The Gowalla location-based check-in service that has been making the rounds on Android and iPhone is now available for webOS devices, like the Palm Pre and Pixi. Anyone familiar with Foursquare will roughly know the shtick: go to a place, check in using a mobile app, and get rewards, both virtual and real. Gowalla differs in that instead of getting points for every check in, you get a badge, and specific locations have signature badges which are meant to lure folks out into noteworthy locations. The whole “passport” and “stamp” nomenclature is supposed to inspire wanderlust in users, apparently.
Like Foursquare, users that don’t find the location they want to check into in the Gowalla directory can add it directly, resulting in a sizeable amount of user-generated content in certain hotspots. One of my favourite parts of Gowalla is the virtual geocaching established at each registered location – basically, you can leave a badge at a spot, and take one that someone else has left there. Useless, sure, but definitely fun.
I’ve been using Foursquare for a week or two now, and it’s a delicate balance trying to participate while not irritating everyone following your Facebook and Twitter accounts with updates like “Hey I’m here now! I have a badge! I’m eating a sandwich! Yay!”, but there’s a way to pull it off tactfully. Twitter has implemented location support, and Facebook will be getting into the location game, so love it or hate it, it will be hard to get away from location awareness regardless of your social network. webOS is all hip and with the social networks, seeing as how they work with native apps through Synergy, so it seems like a natural destination for Gowalla and other apps in the check-in category.
For those looking for something more closely resembling a game, MyTown is in the same ballpark, but allows you to “own” businesses you check into regularly, and charge fictional rent to others who check in, kind of like Monopoly. For the critics out there, Yelp has implemented check-ins with their mobile app, as well as tip/review writing. As for Gowalla, links to all of their apps, including webOS apps for the Palm pre and Pixi, can be found below.
Gowalla for Android (Free) [Android Market Link]
Gowalla for iPhone (Free) [iTunes App Store Link]
Gowalla for webOS (Free) [webOS Market Link]