Check-in apps have come on thick and fast in the mobile world: there are those that let you track where you are going (the Foursquares and Gowallas), those that let you track what you are consuming (GetGlue, which just picked up $6 million in funding yesterday), those that track your runs (DailyMile), where you drive (Waze), and so many more. One of them, Loopt, today added some new features that it hopes will make it stand apart from the pack.
Loopt was one of the earliest apps on the app store, and most certainly one of the first to catch on to the location-based check-in craze. But even with more than 4 million users of the service, it is facing a lot of competition in the market. The new features in this 4.0 release focus on making the app a bit stickier. They include improved friend-finding and place-finding capabilities; location-based text messaging; integration with Facebook; and more rewards across the main app.
Perhaps most significantly of all, it now has an option to let the user turn on an automatic check-in, which would be sent to a specified group of friends.
Loopt’s CEO and co-founder, Sam Altman, says the automatic feature is to combat “check-in fatigue”, an increasing problem. “Even my most voracious check-in friends feel it,” he says. “This is a way to counteract that.” While still, of course, getting people to use the app.
But to hear about check-in fatigue this early in the game is a bit worrisome, considering that these apps are quite a ways from reaching critical mass. In fact, only one percent of the total adult population in the U.S. checks in to any app daily, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.
Loopt’s business model, up to now, has been about serving relevant advertising around a person’s location, and to strike marketing deals with brands, offering users rewards for check-ins at different locations. This sounds like a big success so far. One recent campaign for Virgin America, offering two-for-one tickets to Mexico when users checked in at selected taco stands in San Francisco and Los Angeles, attracted 1,300 people to a single taco truck in SF, with 80 percent of those users buying tickets, making it the fifth-highest revenue day in Virgin America’s history.
The Loopt app is available for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices and is available only in the U.S., although Altman says it has plans to expand to other countries early next year.