There are mobile social networks for athletes, for foodies, and even Jeep owners, but a new one focuses on something near and dear to my heart: beer. Untappd is a mobile web app (currently in beta) for sharing the beers you drink â€” and the places you drink them â€” with your friends.
Untappd is a social checkin service where you “check in” each beer you drink. When you check in a beer, you have the option of adding a location along with it. The locations are pulled from the foursquare API, but you can choose whether or not to push the checkin to foursquare. You can also post your beers to Facebook and Twitter. There are thousands of beers already in the system, or you can add your own if you find a local brew that’s not represented.
Your friends can see the beers you drink and comment or “toast” them, which is Untappd’s equivalent of a Facebook like. From the “Pub” tab, you can see what everyone else with a public profile is drinking. It’s easy to connect with people who have similar tastes by searching for your favorite beer.
Of course, no social checkin service would be complete without badges, and Untappd’s are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen. Each one was artfully illustrated by Leighton Hubbell. You can earn badges like Newbie or Journeyman for the number of beers you drink, or Cerveza Matador or Luck of the Irish for trying beers from other countries. I even unlocked the Top of the Mornin’ badge (a beer before noon) while testing the service this morning.
Untappd has already brought about one serendipitous encounter with fellow beer fan (and Untappd developer), Greg Avola. Over the weekend, I checked in one of my favorite beers and a brief conversation about it ensued in the comments. The next night I noticed a checkin from Greg noting it as “an instant new favorite.” It’s this kind of serendipitous drinking experience that Untappd is designed to foster.
I’ve tried a lot of mobile web apps, and, frankly, none of them (that weren’t built by Google) have been anything to write home about. The interfaces are typically slow and clunky. Untappd is the first I’ve used that feels like a real iPhone app. It should also work well on Android, BlackBerry (UPDATE: The developers are hoping to add BlackBerry support soon) and Palm devices with modern browsers. It’s very well designed and moving between the different functions flows smoothly.
Untappd is in beta, so their website is still being built out. It’s currently only used as a hub to connect your social network accounts (Facebook, Twitter and foursquare), but will soon offer most of the features of the mobile site.
After a few days of playing with it, I’m very excited about the possibilities for this new social network. I’ve already seen how it can bring beer drinkers together to find and share beers they like. It’s also a great way for your friends to see where you’re hanging out and what you’re drinking.
The developers, Avola (of When Will I Be Mayor fame) and Tim Mather, have been gracious enough to invite 25 About Foursquare readers to join the beta. Head over to m.untappd.com (on your mobile device) and use invite code AFUntappd to sign up (UPDATE: Looks like all the invites are gone. If you didn’t get one, you can sign up to get in on their next round of invites at untappd.com). Let us know what you think in the comments.
Several screenshots from Untappd are in the gallery after the jump.