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Check In Services

Page history last edited by Tara Brown 12 years, 5 months ago

04/19/2008

I spent today diligently "checking in" my locations with various services to figure out which one I want to commit to and evangelize.  I was prompted to do the following analysis because of my frustrations with Bright Kite and wanted to see how it faired against other services.

 

I used the following services today to keep my friends apprised of my whereabouts:

- BrightKite (username=tarabrown)

- DodgeBall (username=tarabrown@gmail.com)

- Chatterous (various groups)

- Twitter (username=tarabrown) (not a check-in service per se..but this is how I usually determine what my friends are up to)

- SMS (you want my ph#?? Gift me on Amazon. haha)

- Whrrl (username=tarabrown@hotmail.com) (oops, forgot I had an account on this...TBD later...)

 

Here is how they stacked up:

 

Service SMS Mobile Browser PC Browser

BrightKite

 

*more notes below

Frustrations galore!

- Should be able to free form text and not check in with a specific address

- Business search usually returned results in completely different areas & "more" results didn't always work

 

-Commands

     @ address, city, zip, or placemark

     ! your messag

     m username your message

 

Email photos: xxx@bk.com

 

 

Unuseable

- I tried really hard to use it but links like "Placemark" and "add a note" didn't work

- I wanted to see the results of emailing and texting my locations and photos but too painful so I waited until I got to a PC

Good

- Takes on the new big button simple UI that is emerging more now

- Activity feed front and center & easy to identify command buttons (similar to Tumblr & Pownce)

- Placemarks is a cool feature. I wish it would sync with my Car Nav System

 

 

Lacking

- Finding friends...I couldn't find any import from hotmail/gmail, etc.

 

DodgeBall

*more notes below

 Good

- I like that I can free form my check-ins + add comments

- Short commands..I likey

     @ = check in

     ! = shout

     ? = information

www.dodgeball.com/mobile

Good

- Simple interface with tiny command links

     >Find your friends     

     >Check-in

     >Shout (broadcast to friends!)

     >Find a venue

     >Search nearby

     >Settings

     >Feedback

- Excellent venue search! Results are good

 

Lacking

- Picture uploads (see below)

-Regular notes (I don't necessarily want to shout to all my friends)

 

Note to self:

switch [city name]" to 36343 ("dodge")

 

OK..

- Crush list is tres cool. No one has crushed me yet so not sure exactly how it works...I need more friends!

 

 

Lacking

- Find the UI too busy..no need for it. Font is too small...

Chatterous

 Lacking

- I couldn't setup SMS from my mobile browser so I had to wait to return home to setup...I swore that I already did it and checked my SMS history and sure enough I had. Weird

- Limited support: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Virgin & Alltel. Phone numbers outside the US not supported

- Why are the commands so long?

 

     CHTR STOP      

     CHTR GO

     CHTR STOP <group name>

     CHTR GO <group name>

     CHTR HELP

     CHTR JOIN <group name> <passcode>

 

Unuseable

- @ first glance it looked great, but none of the links worked

 

 OK...

- The feed is right in the middle where i like it

- Would be good if there was some sort of indication of where I was updating: PC/Phone/Gtalk..

 

Twitter

OK...

-Free form text up to 140 chars...

-Not location based, but it seems that # marks are being added to place names in hopes that one day it will be supported

-Ability do Direct Message (DM) tweeple

- Int'l support (w00t!)

- Commands are listed here.

OK...

- Works fine..not great.

 

Lacking

- I can't DM or read replies from my phone browser which totally sucks. At least I don't think I can

- Can't post photos

 OK..

- Simple and to the point

- Sometimes I find it annoying with all the tabs all over the place for Inbox, vs. replies, vs main stream feed

SMS

Duh

- I typically text individual peeps for a quick reply or a group of peeps to broadcast where I am.  I still have a better feeling that my message will get to them if I text their phone directly and not go thru a 3rd party service

 N/A N/A
Whrrl  TBD  TBD  TBD

 

 

Where I checked in:

- Costco in Snohomish, WA

- ProClub in Bellevue, WA

- 76 Gas Station in Bellevue, WA

- Home

 

 

NOTES

 

Brightkite

- The whole point (I thought) of a check-in service is to provide updates from your mobile phone. To not have a windows mobile or iPhone version of the service simply baffles my mind.

- If the only way to upload pics is by email, at least choose a less cryptic email address ...

- Why isn't there a common set of SMS commands? Some are close to Dodgeball and others are different. Let's share the love and be universal people!

 

Dodgeball

- Put the link to "special browser version" right at the top of the page. I didn't see it at first & so immediately thought there wasn't a mobile version available

- When I clicked on the link to redirect to the mobile browser version, I was asked to sign in again. I really hate that

- Really like the "Venue Search" and the "Search nearby" features

- Not clear if i can upload pics?? I see this note in Help: I have a camera phone, but I'm not getting any photos. [ top ]

Remember, you only get photos from friends-of-friends. But just to make sure, go to Prefs and make sure that you told us that you have a camera phon

 

Other thoughts

- When I google search "social network check in" of all the services I only see "Dodgeball" in the search results (#1 btw)

 

 

 

Comments (2)

Tara Brown said

at 9:11 am on Apr 20, 2008

Tara,
Thanks for your interest in our service and spending the time to do a comparative analysis. Your wiki didn't allow me to comment, so I figured I'd shoot you a quick e-mail. I'd like to address some of the points you made one-by-one:

Should be able to free form text and not check in with a specific address

The reason why we require checkins to resolve to an actual point on the map is that the main purpose of the service is to introduce people based on common locations. With free-form checkins, this would not be possible. This was a conscious design decision, and we hope that as we enable the remaining features of Brightkite over the coming weeks, our thinking will become clearer.

Business search usually returned results in completely different areas & "more" results didn't always work

Business search is based on your last checkin. That means if you moved quite a bit since your last checkin, the results won't be in the area. We have tested this behavior with a focus group and found that it generally works pretty well.

The more link does not always work, and that's a know bug that we're going to fix (see my comments on our beta status below).

Unuseable
- I tried really hard to use it but links like "Placemark" and "add a note" didn't work
- I wanted to see the results of emailing and texting my locations and photos but too painful so I waited until I got to a PC

The website is not optimized for a mobile browser yet (as indicated in our help section). We have mobile interfaces in the works. Again, this is because of our beta status.

Tara Brown said

at 9:11 am on Apr 20, 2008


Lacking
- Finding friends...I couldn't find any import from hotmail/gmail, etc.

I'm totally with you. We are working on the friend import functionality, but it's not ready for prime-time yet.

- If the only way to upload pics is by email, at least choose a less cryptic email address ...

We allow you to upload photos from the website, too, by clicking the "Post Photo" button.

The email address provided for mobile photo upload is a special email address just for you, everybody has a different one. That's how we identify the user when we receive emails from you. You should probably not publish it. This is common practice (flickr uses a similar technique).

- Why isn't there a common set of SMS commands? Some are close to Dodgeball and others are different. Let's share the love and be universal people!

Dodgeball has a significantly different purpose than Brightkite has. We are about meeting new people and aggregating content around places. Dodgeball is about keeping track where your friends are at. We do that, too, but it's not our main focus. When we designed our SMS commands, we tried to make them as simple as possible, without being constrained by what other services use.

Finally, I'd like to close by saying that we have been in beta since last Monday (you're on the bleeding edge, so to say). The purpose of opening up this beta was to get initial feedback on the SMS commands and general usefulness of the core service. We fully realize that in order to be truly useful to a general audience, we need to release the mobile interfaces and integrate features such as friend import. Please bear with us, and keep in mind that all of the services your compared us to have been out for a while, and weren't perfect at first either (Twitter had no friend import, for example).

That being said, I appreciate it that you took the time to check out our service. I'd be happy to answer any follow-up questions you might have.

Thanks,
Martin

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