I hate checking in. There, I said it. I hate having to find an app on my mobile device, wait for it to load, click the check in button, wait for it to find my location… and then go do the same process for five other apps. It’s just not worth the hassle. Sometimes it’s literally just as fast to go write a status update on Twitter that gets pushed out to various services and then do a Google search for recommendations on what to do near me, or what recommendations people have for me.It would make location-based apps MUCH easier to use, and I may actually use them, if they would just automatically identify my location and provide recommendations automatically (or whatever other context they are designed to provide around location). No loading up 5+ apps to see all the data, no clicking “check in” 100 times a day, no work.
However, I also do not want my location broadcast 24/7 for the world to see (and I consider 5+ services knowing my location “the world”). So how can location-based services know if I want recommendations or not? When is my location private info and when is it public? Can’t my device just read my mind? =)
In my opinion (and that’s what you get here!), the solution is for a device to have a location-based services dashboard. Effectively I would be able to load up the dashboard and switch between continuous and on-demand location broadcasting. Location-based apps that wanted to know if they can use my location would subscribe to the global event on the device that would update them about my location. In continuous mode, this event would be broadcast periodically (settings TBD) and in on-demand mode, it would be broadcast when I open the location services dashboard and hit ‘check in’. Yes, I know I just finished saying I hate checking in, but really I hate having to check in multiple times for different services and deal with app load times.
The location-based services dashboard should load fast (it’s lightweight) and be a global place for me to not just send out my location, but see the apps registered to receive the events, and see which of them have information for me to view. It’s really pretty simple, and it would certainly encourage me to broadcast my location much more often, to more services.
There is at least one third-party service (check.in) that is designed to try to implement this (or similar) functionality but they only support a few services and only iPhone/iPad & Android. A third-party solution will not be as effective as a solution built into the platform itself. The platform integration is required to really give fine-grained control to the user and maintain some semblance of efficiency from a power management standpoint… or maybe I just trust a platform integrated solution to be better at that than a third-party.
Which mobile device platform wants to be the first to make location-based services super user-friendly? Based on the way apps interact with the OS, it seems like it might be a great fit with BlackBerry. That might be a decision maker in the choice of my next mobile platform