Gowalla, as a service and an application, has undergone some serious changes. No longer content being the gorgeous also-ran to Foursquare, the check-in service has evolved into a social guide, or “atlas”. Rather than focus on the actual act of checking in, Gowalla now aims to be the app you turn to for places to go.
The next time you load up Gowalla (4.0!) on your Android phone or tablet you will find that the app has undergone a significant UI change. Yes, it’s still drop-dead gorgeous, perhaps even more so today than ever before. Users will now be greeted by a social guide which is essentially a bunch of recommendations of places to go, based on info from friends and “experts”. Initially there are only 60 cities listed with guides, however more are on the way all the time. On top of the cities there will also be content that comes from partners such as Disney and National Geographic. This content will pan out to be clever stuff like detailed tour information for national parks and maps to various Disney World resorts.
Check-ins will still be part of the Gowalla experience, just not quite so obvious. Also consider the new approach here lends to more sharing and story-like experiences, rather than just a broadcast of where you are. Once you check-in, share a tip, create a highlight, or generate a list of places to visit. The more you participate, the better the experience for everyone involved. Should you touch down in a city with a guide, you’ll have tons of great information at your disposal. Plenty of places to visit, things to eat, and fun stuff to do!
One other notable change to the Gowalla service is that you can follow other users now, rather than create a mutual friendship. This way you can secretly stalk the hotspots of that guy who always shares the neat pictures of sushi.