Google Latitude, which started out about 2 years ago, lets users inform their friends and family about there geographic location. They have now gone a step further with the introduction of Place Checkins.

So far, when a user was in a particular city or town, that location was automatically visible to contacts as a dot on a map. But now, with the use of Google Maps 5.1 for Android, users can actually specify their exact location, when they are in a restaurant, theatre or any other place of interest.

Of course, users retain the right to decide whether or not to share their location. Users can choose to keep their location confidential, share it with friends or even make it public.

To remind the user to use this facility, Google Maps will show a notification to check in, whenever the user enters a place of interest. The user can also opt for an automatic check in facility for certain selected places. When a person checks in at a given location frequently, that person is given a designation such as ‘regular’, ‘VIP’ or ‘Guru’, depending on the frequency of visits, which is similar to Foursquare’s system of awarding “mayorship”.

Latitude also automatically checks users out of the location once they leave the place, which is not something Foursquare does. The check in facility also provides turn-by-turn directions to the place through the Google Maps Navigation and allows users to leave reviews about the place. Google will shortly add a feature that will provide a complete history of the check-ins through an optional History tab.

Considering that latitude is used by 10 million people every month, this new feature should gain popularity very soon.

This new check-in feature is very similar to what other sites such as Gowalla, Foursquare, Loopt, Facebook Places, Scvngr and Whrrl provide. However, the additional features of notifications and automatic checkout should help Google get more users. The competitor websites will have to be on their toes if they wish to survive against Google’s onslaught.

4 Comments

  • Bill says:

    I’ve used several of these services and have just started using Latitude.

    I would like to be able to some custom locations that I can check into. (Home, Work). These should be user specific and visible only to the friends who can see my specific location. They should not go into the public database, otherwise my street would be full of locations like Grandads House, Joe’s House, etc. Loopt does this pretty well, Foursquare does it poorly.

    I would like be able to understand better how it updates. I just looked at Latitude online and saw that my last update was two hours old, and I don’t know why.

    I really like the auto-checkin/checkout to frequent locations, but the GPS hardware will have to work better to make this accurate.

  • its amazing google,fantastic

  • AccuraCast says:

    @Bill Very true, they could all do a better job. We were just talking about this earlier today, and thought that sooner or later, we’re bound to see a new service crop up that handles all checkins centrally and picks the good points of each service to deliver a solution that is much more useful than any of the current individual offerings from Lattitude, Facebook, Foursquare etc.

  • Liz says:

    Hi there.
    I am sure that you get a million emails like this a day but I wanted to let you know that your post “Google Latitude Allows Place Checkins” was really great. It was insightful and clear, which are things in writing that I greatly value. I actually just started working for a start-up in NYC and am knee deep in learning about geo-location apps and checkins to get up to speed, so your post was helpful.
    Based on what you enjoy writing,I think it would be great to connect since it is both timely and makes sense. Our app launched last week. Let me know if you are interested. I have not spoken to my boss about this but I’m sure he’d be thrilled, plus it’d really help me out!
    Either way, it was a pleasure to read your post, keep fighting the good fight!
    Liz