In a move that puts it in direct competition with Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook, Google is hopping into the check-in game with the latest version of Google Maps for Android, as you can now automatically check-in using Latitude.
In a blog post, the search giant said the new version of Google Maps offers things that aren’t just your “typical check-ins” by including:
Notifications: Turn on check-in notifications in Latitude’s settings and get a notification to check in at a nearby place once you arrive. Never forget to check in again.
Automatic check-ins: Choose to automatically check in at specific places you designate, and you’ll be checked in when you’re there. You can talk to friends or finish your bagel without fumbling with your phone.
Check out: Once you leave, Latitude knows to automatically check you out of places so friends aren’t left guessing if you’re still there.
You can also get titles from checking-in at Google Place locations, as you can become a “Regular,” “VIP” or “Guru.” There’s no tangible reward for that yet but it’s easy to imagine the search giant
Of course, the Google Maps check-in feature could have some scary privacy concerns if you turn on the automatic feature and forget about it. In fact, the search giant has admitted that its Latitude service has been activated by a lot of people but many simply forget that it’s on and aren’t actively engaged with it.
So, in order to address this issue, the company gives you granularity over Latitude check-in abilities. It says that checking in is 100% opt-in and you can toggle the settings so that it’s not automatic – and I suggest you definitely do that.
The Google Maps check-in service is now available for Android devices running Android 1.6 and above and it can be found in the Android Market. This is Android only for now but Latitude users on iPhone will be able to view Android check ins and I’m sure the feature will be turned on soon enough for iOS users.
[Via Google Mobile Blog]