Gowalla has long had an interest in stepping beyond the confines of the ubiquitous “checkin” to leverage location in other useful and unique ways. The company today announced a new addition to its service that does just that.
Called “Highlights,” the new addition aims to define places using user experiences rather than checkins. Here’s how it works: a user is asked to tag real world places based on a set of criteria, so for example, you’re asked to name your favorite “Date Night” spot, the place you think has the “Best Tacos,” your “Alma Mater,” and your favorite “Watering Hole,” among other things. Each of these answers reveals a bit about who you actually are, and where you spend your time.
With this so-called “experience-data” associated with certain places, users can see interesting tidbits about their friends when they checkin at their favorite places. For example, if you checkin at a certain coffee shop, you might be alerted that a friend of yours had a wild experience not too long ago at that very location. Likewise, if you’re looking for the best coffee shop in a city your visiting, you can visit the highlights page to see what users deem the best coffee in town. When coupled with a user’s social graph, things get pretty interesting and provides a unique additional experience to using Gowalla.
Highlights is currently only available on the Gowalla Website, but is set to go live on its various mobile apps soon. “We were inspired to create Highlights when we started building Gowalla for iPad. It got us thinking about how we could visualize places in interesting ways,” said CEO and Co-Founder Josh Williams. It’s the latest step in what Williams calls “the intersection of people and places” — in other words, it’s the latest step beyond being just a check-in service and it’s a step towards differentiating itself from the rest.