OK, I have to admit that I have no idea why I find this new app quite as amusing as I do.... but I do. It's called Gowalla and it's in the iTunes app store for free. That's just one of the reasons I like it. It's one of those apps that attempts to link up your social networking spaces (facebook, twitter, etc.) with your meatspace experience. I've been playing with it for a few days and I think it's pretty slick.
The concept is simple enough. It uses the iPhone's built-in GPS to find "spots" near you. If you are at one of those spots, you're given the option to "Check In". Checking in adds a checkmark next to that location for you. In that regard, it's kind of like a scavenger hunt... maybe you want to tick off all the places on the list of spots nearest you. Or maybe you're just looking for a restaurant... or a cup of coffee. Since spots are sorted by type, you can use it for that as well.
But, the most interesting part of the app (at least to me) is the integration with your social networks. You can link Gowalla to your Twitter and Facebook accounts to have it update your status whenever you check in at a new location. Also, it can locate your friends on these services that are also using Gowalla. Then, in the Friends tab, it will show you their locations if they're near you. Pretty cool.
The Passport page keeps track of all the places you've checked in. And, there's no "cheating". If you're not close enough to a location, you can't claim you're there and check-in. The GPS makes sure of that.
Also, if you're near an interesting spot and it's not on the list, you can simply add it. Once you add the spot you can check in. You can also become a "founder" by dropping an item there. You're given some seemingly random objects (glove, marbles, praying mantis?) that you can drop at locations or swap for other items.
And finally there's a section for "Trips". These are user-created trips that contain a series of spots. Obviously the goal here is to visit each spot and complete the trip.
So, if you have an iPhone go ahead and download Gowalla. After all, it is FREE. And then add me as a friend!