Just in case you thought that we already have enough location based services like Foursquare, Facebook Places or Gowalla, which allows you to virtually check-in to real sites, no - Google hadn't had one - until today! Because Google has just announced that it has enriched Google Latitude with the release of Google Maps Mobile 5.1 for Android, which now allows users to also connect the current location to a real place by checking in there using Latitude. While Latitude can still be used to automatically update and share locations with friends, check-ins let you add context to the location - like captions to a photo. Latitude is built right into Google Maps for Android so check-ins work across Latitude and Maps seamlessly.
Because Latitude can automatically detect a user's location, Google added a few twists to checking in to make it really easy:
- Notifications: Turn on check-in notifications in Latitude's settings and get a notification to check in at a nearby place once you arrive.
- Automatic Check-ins: Choose to automatically check in at specific places you designate, and you'll be checked in when you're there.
- Check-out: Once you leave, Latitude knows to automatically check you out of places so friends aren't left guessing if you're still there.
And, surprise, surprise, you can also check in at a favorite place to earn special status there; you'll see if you've become a "Regular", a "VIP" or a "Guru" on its Place page.
Google said that it even thought carefully about how to make checking in to places quick and easy while giving users control over the privacy. Just like when sharing a location with Latitude, checking in is 100% opt-in, and users can choose to share any check-in with friends on Latitude, publicly on the web and the Google profile.
However, it's (yet?) not possible to add locations, but users can only check in to locations which are provided by Google.
Google Latitude with check-in requires the latest Google Maps Mobile version which is now available from the Android Market and supports any Android version 1.6 or higher. At the moment, Apple iPhone Latitude app users will only see see friends' check-ins but Google we'll update the app soon. Yet not supported are HP Palm's webOS and Microsoft's Windows Mobile/Windows Phone 7.Cheers ~ Arne