Location Services Look to Future Check-Ins… With Friends

Earlier this week, I wrote about RedRover, a geo-social mobile network that allowed parents to connect, plan play dates and find places to go. Today Ditto, a new app from Jaiku founder Jyri Engestrom, is coming out of the gates with the premise of helping users get recommendations on the fly as they figure where to go next and who might want to join them.

In both cases, the emphasis isn’t where you are now or where you’ve been, but it’s about looking ahead to where you’ll be. That’s increasingly part of a larger shift in the location game as start-ups look to help users figure out where to go with personalized recommendations. Ditto is more weighted toward real-time recommendations from your current friends. It allows you to send out a query with a single click about where to go, what to eat or what movie to see, and it’s looking at expanding to books and music and other content. Users can send back suggestions or respond with a “ditto.”

What I think is interesting about RedRover and Ditto is that it’s not just about recommendations, but about creating future meetups. It’s throwing out an idea about what you might want to do or are planning on doing and seeing who responds. With Ditto, which is backed by True Ventures (see disclosure below) and Betaworks, you can say where you want to go and see who else wants to join. RedRover has a scrolling timeline where you can see not just where you’ve been but what events friends are casually posting in the future. They’re both giving us a lightweight and mobile way to schedule casual events.

There are already mechanisms for getting together, of course: People post things on Twitter or Facebook, but they can get lost in the stream at times. Group messaging apps can also serve this role on some level, but they’re more designed for real-time communication. Breaking this out into its own action makes sense because it’s designed to facilitate future check-ins with friends. Instead of sharing about where you’ve been, you’re figuring out where you and your friends can go together.

Location service WHERE also recently did something along these lines when it integrated its mobile app with Facebook Connect. When you click on a friend’s profile now, you can get place recommendations not just for you but both you and your friend together. The idea is that you’re finding another way to use location to be social in real life, to facilitate more real-world interaction.

I like that shift, and I think this is what we need more of. We’re not talking about formal Evites to people but simple location-aware apps and features dedicated to what people can do next together. It won’t be hard for the current location apps to incorporate this, and I think they should, just as many of them are doing with recommendations. What good is a check-in if not spent with friends?

Disclosure: True Ventures is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

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