If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that I reserve my most special hatred for automated check-in apps. I’ve never really understood the need for them or why people would trade their battery life and deal with the headaches they caused just to be checked in without thinking about it.
After trying Uber Check-in, though, I’m starting to come around. It’s the first automated check-in app for iOS that I’ve tried that actually works as advertised without absolutely killing your battery. It’s also available for Android.
Uber Check-in checks you in to the places you’ve specifically asked it to in advance, which helps to prevent against unwanted rogue check-ins at random spots. You add your favorites from either a list of nearby foursquare spots or from the places you visit most often, as pulled from your foursquare history. Like foursquare’s Radar feature, it uses the background location detection built in to iOS 5, so there’s almost no extra drain on your battery.
In my tests, it’s been incredibly accurate about finding my location and checking me in without any effort. It displays a push notification to let you know it was successful, plus it informs you if you gain or mayorship or are close to gaining one.
And for those of you who hate your Facebook friends, Uber Check-in can also automatically check you in on Facebook Places, which just seems like a recipe for annoyance.
Uber Check-in isn’t without its own annoyances, though. Users can use the free version to check in at up to three places (an unlimited number can be selected after the $1.99 in-app upgrade, which sounds fair). The free version contains a series of terrible interstitial ads between every screen (these are disabled after you upgrade). Luckily you don’t have to interact with the app all that often. Uber Check-in also includes an obnoxious “Checked in automatically with the Uber Check-In app! http://www.ubercheckin.com” shout with every check-in it completes. UPDATE (9/11): Visual Candy (developers of Uber Check-in) have let us know that they currently have an update pending with Apple that allows upgraded users to customize the shout. UPDATE (9/13): The update is now live.
I’m still not entirely sold on the need for automated check-ins. The foursquare app — with the exception of v5.2.4 — is usually fast enough and includes such rich data after the check-in that it’s worth the hassle of pulling out your phone. But if you feel you absolutely need to be checked in automatically, UberCheck-in is the app you should be using.
Do you use an automated check-in app? Why do you prefer it over the actual foursquare app?
/Post edited 9/11/12 to reflect the availability of an Android version and new revelations regarding the benefits of upgrading. Visual Candy is also working on localization to make it available in countries other than the US.