- Helpful user-submitted trips
- Pleasant interface
- Skimpy coverage in smaller cities
Gowalla (Free) is one of many location-based social networking apps for the iPhone. But with so many apps crowding into this market, how does Gowalla stack up?
Gowalla is worth it for the trips
Gowalla uses the iPhone’s built-in GPS to determine your location and find nearby spots where you might want to check in, like bars, restaurants, or shopping centers. When you check in to these locations, you can see who else is there, including your friends from Facebook or Twitter (as long as they use the Gowalla app).
Just like its rival Foursquare, Gowalla is most valuable in big cities. In smaller cities, there are far fewer users. However, in my experience, it seems that slightly more people are using Gowalla than Foursquare -- at least in the locations I’ve tested the two iPhone apps.
Like Foursquare, Gowalla has a pretty plain interface, but the icons that identify each type of location jazz it up a bit. The app is relatively easy to navigate, and it integrates with Google Maps to make it easy to find locations.
My favorite aspect of Gowalla is the Trips tab. These user-submitted trips identify several stops in the same city that are worth visiting. For example, one Gowalla user might submit a pub crawl with a list of five bars. Each stop on the trip is pinpointed on the map. Some of these trips are really well done and have helped me find new things to do, especially when traveling. Unfortunately for those in smaller locales, the vast majority of trips are in big cities.
You can also earn pins and stamps on Gowalla, which are similar to the badges you earn on Foursquare. Some might find it fun to wrack up pins or badges, but I don’t find them very motivating.
The Bottom Line
For those who like location-based social networking, Gowalla is a good choice. Of course, the app is more interesting in big cities where it has a large number of users. Since it’s free, you don’t have much to lose by downloading Gowalla to see how it works in your city. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
What You’ll Need