By now you’ve probably heard of foursquare, the newest wave in social networking that uses geolocation to track and reward users for “checking in” to restaurants, bars, and other venues. In fact, you might be one of the millions people who use it on a regular basis.
But foursquare wasn’t the first service to do this (remember BrightKite?), and some would argue it’s not even the best. Its major competitor is Gowalla, a funny-sounding social network built around the same idea of checking in to various venues and updating your friends on your whereabouts.
While foursquare explodes into the popular consciousness, Gowalla struggles in this regard, and many foursquare users don’t realize they’re missing out on a superior geolocation experience.
Check out our four reasons why you should be using Gowalla instead of that other app:
- Better design
It might not make Gowalla easier to use, but it sure makes it more pleasant to use; Gowalla is full of slick and shiny designs, from the user interface all the way down to the icons associated with different venues. Speaking of which: Popular venues on Gowalla (such as stadiums and chain restaurants) have their own custom-designed icons instead of the generic icons associated with less-common venues. This kind of attention to detail and quality makes it feel like a much more premium experience than Foursquare.
- More features
In addition to letting you post comments and tips about a venue when you check in, Gowalla also gives you the option to upload photos to be associated with that venue, which others will see when they check in. Not only is it fun to see what other people have snapped with their phones, but it also gives you a great visual reference point to make sure you’re checking into the right place.
- Another great feature: the ability to create events. If you’re having a celebration, a fundraiser, a viewing party, etc., you can create event pages on Gowalla that allow you and your friends to check in, write comments, and post photos. The pages expire after twelve hours, so it lets you and your friends check into your house (or workplace, or wherever) without having to make a new permanent venue just for the occasion.
- More goals
Gowalla doesn’t just stop at seeing who can get the most badges; users can group multiple venues together into Trips, giving you specific locations to strive for. Completing an entire trip is significantly more gratifying than simply checking into your favorite bar.
- Furthermore, Gowalla features an extensive items system with more than 100 collectible items to find. Checking into places can earn you an item, ranging from generic things like bottles of water to specific brands, such as a Livestrong bracelet. You can then trade these items with other items that people have dropped at your location. This added depth makes checking in a more exciting experience because you never know if you’ll be rewarded with that item you’ve been needing to complete your collection.
- More perks
This feature is mostly limited to big cities, but it’s worth mentioning: From time to time, Gowalla features awesome promotions from big-name brands like Paul Frank, USA Today, and the NBA to offer users special perks for checking into certain places. Checking into Paul Frank’s Times Square store can earn you a 20% discount. Checking into various major airports will get you travel tips from USA Today. Pretty sweet!