I am sad that I appear to be saying goodbye to Gowalla. The location check-in app had a major overhaul a few weeks ago and all the things I loved about it are now gone. The app has now been relegated to the last page of my iPhone and it is barely used anymore. I can't bring myself to delete it just yet.
I loved Gowalla. I even risked some international charges on my last trip to Panama so I could get the Panama pin. Just as I wrote about almost two years ago I liked that I could be the shy loner that I am and still use a check-in app. It didn't matter if I had a lot friends because I could collect stamps, pin and items and it was still fun and useful.
Items was my favorite part of the app. It wasn't just about checking in somewhere or becoming "mayor" of some place but of being on a virtual scavenger hunt. I loved finding the beautifully drawn items and swapping them out with others. I liked seeing how far an item had come and trying to collect them all. Item play got more difficult as Gowalla began to let it languish, but I still love it to this day. I took screenshots of all my items before they eliminated them.
And that's the problem. Those things are gone. Now Gowalla wants to be a travel app and storytelling app. When I start a story (check-in) it wants me list who is with me (nobody Gowalla.) It searches and IF it finally finds my location it is slow to finish the process. Today I pulled the app up after ignorning it for more than a week and even though I thought it checked me in when I got home I discovered it had not. The whole app is slow and buggy and all the things that made it unique and different and fun are gone. All you have to do is look at comments on Gowalla's blog, their Facebook page and especially at their reviews in iTunes/App store to see that I am not alone. It's like watching the Netflix debacle, but in slow motion.
I didn't even have a FourSquare account until a few weeks ago. I can't stand the automatic check-ins from FourSquare on Twitter. I wish people would turn them off. I don't like the mayor concept. I don't like that I can't see who has checked into a place previously, only who is there now. I don't like that I can't see the list of places a person checked in. The site design is not pretty, the colors are garish and their badges are plain. Yet with all that the Foursquare app has been more enjoyable to use the last few weeks than Gowalla. And that's the saddest statement of all.