The year 2010 has been deemed the year of geolocation social networks. With the rise of check-ins, specials for Foursquare mayors, and fighting your way to be the Duke or Duchess on Yelp where does Whrrl come along and what does it have to offer? Is it just another check-in app? Yes and no.
If you launch Whrrl from your phone (in my case, the iPhone), you’re quickly transported to what I can best describe as ToonTown in Disneyland. The sky is blue and lightly spotted with clouds. The suburban neighborhood has a few buildings with cars and before you know it a smile lights up your face watching the animation on your screen. This is unlike anything I’ve seen on other check-in apps. I feel like I’m a part of something and my friends are here too. The next screen pops up and I can see where they’ve been to, pictures of what they’ve eaten, and their recommendations. We can join fun societies like “High Jolt” for coffee/caffeine addicts, the “cultured society” for book worms, and the “High Steaks” society for you guessed it – checking into a steakhouse. You can also create a society based on your passion, invite people to it, and add places or venues relevant to the society. Recommendations, pictures, and check-ins are awarded points (10 for each); others can browse these suggestions (unless you only allow friends to view them or keep them private) and either recommend it to their friends, want to try it themselves (which creates a bookmark), or suggest they’ve already done it awarding the user more points and building influence. Influence is ranked each week and users compete to stay ahead on the rankings board.
Whrrl sounds like a lot of work but the interface is fun and interactive. Being able to browse suggestions in any given area is quite helpful. If you’re unfamiliar with an area, you can launch the app to see what locals have suggested, bookmark suggestions to try later, and also leave some tips of your own after you leave. The ability to browse suggestions by other users is also a feature on Yelp but requires some navigation on the app which can be tedious and time consuming vs. launching Whrrl and have a slide show of suggestions at your fingertips right on the home page. Want to know what else makes me smile? Occasionally when I check in the app will tell me I look nice today. I know it’s a program but sometimes you just need that boost.
The basic concept behind Whrrl (directly from their website) is to pick your passion (a society/suggestion) and rally people behind it. You earn points and get people off their butts by sharing ideas. The concept of leaving a recommendation and earning points is brilliant. I make it a habit to take a picture and write a quick blurb. I’ll often hear back my friends that they have gone back to that restaurant to try my suggestion and I also get a notification when others have recommended or tried it as well. Imagine the potential for small businesses and the warm fuzzies you get for helping those businesses simply by checking in? You can see your potential unfold by the amount of points you accumulate and the business sees revenue.
Early this month, Pelago (the creative team behind Whrrl) also launched a new app called “Go Try It.” The idea is simple: take those ideas and go try them. The app launches with a list of suggestions in the area, a list of your friends who also want to try them, and then creates a mini-tweetup (whrrl up?). Talk about an awesome way to revitalize this economy and give it the boost it needs.
Whrrl is quickly becoming my favorite check-in app for all the reasons above and the potential it has. If I have a question, they are quick to respond via Facebook, Twitter, or email and are constantly improving the way they do things to provide a user experience that is unique to geolocation. I invite you to give it a Whrrl and Go Try It.