A Powerful Check-In Feature Has Been Added to Google Latitude

Written by Felipe on February 12th, 2011

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November 10th, 2013 Update: Well, as they say, “All good things must come to an end.” I regret to inform you that Google has retired their once popular cell phone tracking service and they are now out of the game. If you’re interested in checking in with your phone might I suggest that you try an app called foursquare.

A couple weeks ago Google released a new feature to their amazingly popular Google Latitude cell phone tracking application that allows users to “check in” at their favorite locations when they arrive. They were following in the footsteps of the wildly popular social networking application called foursquare that made “checking in” an overnight sensation.

When Google initially released this new feature for the Latitude application, iPhone users were left in the dark wondering when or even if they would be able to get in on the fun.

This should come as no surprise if you remember that when Google initially released the Latitude application in 2009, Apple quickly took steps to block the application for iPhone users. It seems that Apple didn’t want any direct competition with their iPhone Maps application.

Fortunately for the hundreds of millions of iPhone lovers out there, it didn’t take another two years after Google added this new feature for iPhone users to be able to take advantage of it.

What Exactly Is “Checking In”

If you’re not familiar with what “checking in” is or why you might want to get involved in this, I’ll give you a brief explanation but point you to another article on my website that describes it in much more detail. Click here to learn more about checking in with foursquare.

I’ll give you the 30 second condensed version here in case you don’t feel like reading the other article. Google Latitude does a great job of letting you know where your friends are because it automatically updates your location as long as you have the application running on your phone. A couple of years after the introduction of Google Latitude, a company by the name of foursquare launched an application that allows users to “check in” whenever they go somewhere. This “check in” phenomenon quickly gained in popularity. The main reason that it took off so fast was because foursquare implemented a feature into their application that made “checking in” somewhere seem like a fun game to play.

The more times users checked in at a particular location, the more points they earned and the more points they earned, the higher level of badges they earned. The person who has the most points at any given location with the foursquare application earns what is called the “Mayor badge”. Businesses quickly figured out that they could utilize this application to their advantage by offering incentives to those who checked in at their place of business most often.

Why Did Google Want In On The Game?

It didn’t take too long for Google to realize that foursquare was really onto something with this feature. I believe that they figured they could do a better job so they added check in functionality to their Google Latitude application. In my opinion, they even did a better job with their spin on “checking in”.

The foursquare application places a lot of emphasis on the gamesmanship aspect of being the person who has the highest badge at a particular location. Google has partnered with many establishments to create what are called “offers”. These offers are incentives that businesses provide users with to check in frequently. Google’s increased emphasis on “offers” gives users more of an incentive to use their app to check in because they can earn “tangible” rewards such as free food or discounts from participating merchants.

Here’s a short video from Google that talks briefly about checking in with Latitude.

So What About All The iPhone Users Out There?

The iPhone users who want to take advantage of this new Google Latitude feature will have to upgrade their operating system to iOS 4 for the new version of this social cell phone tracker application to work on their phone. This is merely a minor inconvenience and most iPhone users will upgrade their operating system anyway.

If you own an iPhone and have the Latitude app installed on it, you’ll definitely want to upgrade to the newest version of this app so that you can take advantage of this new feature and get in on the “checking in” fun!

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