Last week I was lucky enough to get a beta invite from Check.in (I RT’d a Mashable story about it and was one of the first 50 to do so, so I received a code).
I was really excited because I had stopped using Brightkite and was exclusively using Gowalla and Foursquare to check in at places. Check.in is an HTML5 site that allows you to check in on Brightkite, Gowalla and Foursquare at the same time, which seems like an awesome idea, except it is missing some of the features that make those other applications great.
I’ve always preferred Foursquare to Gowalla, however I really like the new photos feature that Gowalla has implemented. I also like being able to choose when and where I broadcast my location (Gowalla usually goes to Facebook, and very rarely Foursquare will go to Twitter). With Check.in I am not given the option to do any of these things; no broadcasting (except push notifications, but even then I cannot choose which or when they are sent), no photo uploading and there is no ability to see tips and badges on Foursquare or receive pins on Gowalla.
As you can see above, the process is simple. You go to their website, m.check.in, and you log in. I have found you have to log in just about every time you open this website, which takes awhile to load, which doesn’t seem to save you that much time when compared to opening both Gowalla and Foursquare, since they save your information. You then select your location via Brightkite, and after that you have to find the same place again so that you can check in on Foursquare, and again via Gowalla. The problem I have found with this method is that there are times when the place I am at doesn’t show up in Foursquare or Gowalla, and there is no way to search, so you cannot check in with Check.in. After you confirm you have found the same spot for all 3 applications, you are able to append a 140 character message, but you cannot choose to have the message syndicated to Twitter or Facebook.
If all you are looking for is an easy way to check in to Brightkite, Foursquare and Gowalla (or any combination of these sites) and you do not care about tips, to-do’s, posting pictures, receiving notifications of badges or specials, or posting your location to other social sites, then you should go sign up for a beta invite to Check.in immediately.
While Check.in has not replaced the Foursquare and Gowalla apps on my iPhone, I can only hope that as more people use this service their features will expand to include the things that make these apps unique and fun to use.