July 24, 2014

Where! Update Encourages Discovery of "The New"

For me, the concept of social networking stopped with locations. “Checking In” to everywhere you go gives me mixed feelings.  By mixed I mean I can’t tell if it’s a stalkers Christmas or an easy way  for Alzheimers patients to remember their day to day. I’ve recently gotten addicted to entertainment check ins, though that’s an entirely different adventure. The purpose of the location check in services is often to share your opinion of that place, or to demonstrate your shopping or eating habits to your friends. But what if you don’t follow 5,000 people on Twitter, or a billion people on Facebook. Do the location services really help with the discovery of new places? Where! says these apps don’t, and gives you a really good reason why.

For anyone who has used Where! it’s one of the best ways to find just about everything. From gas stations to movie theaters and everything in between. Using your location or just a zip code, you can find a ton of places to go see, do, touch, eat, whatever. So what happens when this location engine gets a UI update and a shift in priorities from knowledge engine to crowdsourced knowledge engine? You get a look into the future of Where!

“Our goal is to own the ‘pre check-in’ space,” said Walt Doyle, Chief Executive Officer, WHERE, Inc. “It’s time to fundamentally change how mobile users discover the world around them. WHERE’s unparalleled Recommendation Engine and fun, user-friendly interface enable the best possible local discovery experience.”

With Where!’s recommendation engine, the location search becomes less about what is immediately around you, and more about what is GOOD around you, based on the experiences of others. As simple as a “like” on Facebook, you can enhance that recommendation engine with your approval or disapproval of a given place.

The ball doesn’t stop rolling with a new UI and a revamped search and location/recommendation system either, Where! Nataly Kogan, VP of Consumer Experience spoke of the future of Where! as well.

“We’re really excited about the additional features we’ll be rolling out in the next several months to further enhance our users’ local discovery experience,” Kogan added. “Seeing where your friends want to go or what their favorite places are is a great way to get recommendations so we’ll be making it easy to experience WHERE with friends. Targeted exclusive deals – say, at a place that’s on a user’s “want to go” list – are coming soon, as well as the ability for our users to become local experts by publishing guides to their favorite spots around town.”

So, the “Pre Check-In”? Where! seems to want to position themselves as the killer app to go alongside your location drug of choice, rather than their competition. It’s a move that assumes the user will open one app to find something good in their area and then transition to another app to check-in to it, all the while remembering that the first app needs a “love it or shove it” in order to be effective for the next interested user to cross that area. Fortunately many of these apps, including Where! have pretty effective widgets, making it so the user would never need to actually switch between apps. Is that still more effort than the average user would go through several times a day?

For this writer, Where! has always been useful for finding anything when I am travelling, and the addition of recommendations is a welcome one, as long as everyone in that area doesn’t have horrible taste in food or lodging or something else I may be looking for. If you don’t have Where! Grab it from the Market and see for yourself if the pre check-in scene is for you.