With this past month's surge in Foursquare membership
, it's no wonder that the new crop of automatic check-in apps has arisen to offer the latest and greatest ways to make people's whereabouts known in the digital landscape. After all, with the competition for badges and mayoral honors
becoming tougher than ever, some people may not be able to keep up. In which case, what's better than a service that checks in for you?
This check-in app identifies consumers via their iPhones the moment they enter a retail environment, upon which it automatically unlocks rewards. (Special technology verifies that a user has actually entered a store - merely walking by doesn't count.) Frequent shoppers are rewarded for their loyalty with real world incentives like gift cards, downloads and gadgets. They can also earn exclusive virtual currency called "kickbucks," which can be cashed in for things like Facebook credits and gift cards. Recent retail partners include Best Buy
, American Eagle, Macy's, and Sports Authority
. Considering that many companies would jump at the chance to identify and reward their most faithful customers, it's not hard to imagine waves of shopaholics being tempted to open their wallets even more often in exchange for free gifts and meaty discounts.
For us, the prospect of broadcasting our current location (or anything personal for that matter) gives us the creeps. After all, what better opportunity for your place to be robbed
than when your check-in status announces that you just sat down to dinner at the Cajun hot spot
across town? Neer is a new Android app that's a bit anti-Foursquare
in that it keeps users' locations private, save for an inner circle of friends and family. As long as you've exchanged contact information with someone, they can be in your Neer network and automatically receive updates on your whereabouts. As the service creates a so-called geo-fence
, users can elect predetermined locations, like home or work, to automatically check in and out of when they're in the vicinity. Now, jittery moms may not have to call or text their teens every five minutes, eliminating some of the adolescent mortification that comes with such parental stalking.
Only after something like the invention of Foursquare could a condition called "check-in fatigue
" arise to plague so many social media savants. Yes, this "fatigue" is real, as users of services like Foursquare and Gowalla are complaining that taking out their phone every time they arrive at a new location is just too much of a hassle. The new iPhone app Future Checkin plans to solve that problem by eliminating the need for manual check-ins on Foursquare - Gowalla is coming soon - at the locations users check into most often. Users can designate a list of their favorite locations
and Future Checkin will run in the background of their phone, automatically checking in a user when they arrive at one of their frequent hangouts. Provided users designate a list of faves, they can make their presence known, fatigued or not. No excuses.