I can’t wait for this check-in culture to move on

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I absolutely cannot stand this check-in culture that has spread across the ‘connected’ social media masses. It’s not just FourSquare… everyone’s doing it. I can’t move for check-in competitions and updated services that now come with check-in features. You can now get check-in aggregators.

A check-in — the act of physically taking out your phone, running an application, waiting for it to locate you and then choosing your location from a supplied list — is silly. It’s like having to enable the WinSock driver on your Windows 3.1 system every time you want to connect to the internet. It’s like having to click ‘connect’ on an old Nokia phone every time you actually want to connect to the internet.

I just want it to happen. I don’t want to force followers to read a ridiculous update message because I’m at the dry cleaners and a little bit bored for 20 seconds.

My preference for location based service functionality is for it to work in the background. Quietly.

Leaving aside the gaming features that many enjoy (“ooh, I’m at the coffee shop, time to check-in… ooh, I’m at the chemist, time to check-in…”), location should run in the background until such time as it is needed, rather than blaring all over the place.

I should be able to automatically update my location status for a predefined list of friends and associates. Much like the way Google Latitude works, but without the constant battery drain.

I should then have the opportunity to be notified if a friend is nearby. Or, ideally, I should get a visual cue when I look at my phone — for example, the top section of the screen might turn a darker shade or red to indicate the nearby presence of a friend.

This is why I don’t use any check-in services at the moment.

I’m looking forward to seeing the next generation of mobile interfaces that support this kind of constant ambient location services.

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