I’ve never been a huge Gowalla user, none of my friends use it (they’re more into Facebook Check-in) and it hasn’t really caught on in my city. Nonetheless, I like the idea of apps like Gowalla and FourSquare, which allow you to assert your fondness for locations and businesses simply by pressing a button. Though I’m not compelled to use Gowalla socially, I sometimes check for nearby spots when I’m in an unfamiliar neighbourhood, only to find a list of churches, bus stops and chain restaurants. The developers of Goodfoot attempt to harness the power of Gowalla and make it more useful to all types of iPhone users, even those that aren’t social network superstars.
Goodfoot lists local Spots in order of their “awesomeness”, a metric they’ve developed which ranks based on how often spots are re-visited by locals, and claims to be able to filter through the uninteresting spots that fill the Gowalla nearby list and show you where the locals actually hang out. So, is it successful? Can an algorithm separate the local hotspots from the tourist traps? Find out after the jump!
Interface and Design
Goodfoot boasts a wonderfully straightforward interface with only three self-explanatory tabs: walk, bike, and drive. Each tab lists spots based on proximity and “awesomeness”. Though perhaps not quite as gorgeous as the Gowalla app, everything about the Goodfoot interface is simple and intuitive, I rarely say this, but my even dad could find a local pub with Goodfoot!
Browsing with Goodfoot
Interacting with Goodfoot is a clear, logical process: browse spots depending on how far you want to go/how you want to travel, check out the awesomemeter of a spot and read highlights, then either open the spot in the Gowalla app/website, or get directions and a map.
Did it find the Awesome?
So, the real question is: did Goodfoot accurately identify the “awesome” local businesses and attractions? In my neighbourhood at least, the awesomemeter pretty much nailed it. I’ve lived in this neighbourhood forever, and I know that the best hangouts within walking distance are the park, the Rooster Cafe, and Allen’s, all of which show up at the top of Goodfoot’s list.
The biking-range list was similarly impressive, save for the inclusion of a run-down mall (everybody goes there, but no one really wants to). The accuracy of the awesomemeter declined with distance, the driving-range spots were more of a mixed bag.A lot of movie theatres were listed, and though they’re a popular hangout spot for suburban teens, they’re not really places you’d like to go.
I imagine if you were living in the suburbs, you’d find a lot of chains and movie theatres and malls, because that’s where the young people hang out, and it’s usually the young people that use apps like Gowalla. In my neighbourhood, this is an advantage, the people who check-in to Gowalla are young, tech-happy professionals and creative types like me, and this is probably the case in most dense urban neighbourhoods.
Goodfoot is my favorite kind of iPhone app: it does one, useful thing, and does it very well. There aren’t any bells and slow-loading whistles, you’re not prompted to “share” everything you do, and you can get started using it right away without having to figure anything out.
With any check-in based app, you have to take into consideration the kind of people that do the checking-in, and whether or not your tastes are going to align with these types. In my gentrifying middle-class neighbourhood, the spots Goodfoot picked out would appeal to pretty much anyone in the neighbourhood regardless of age or personality. The further away you get from urban centres, the more chains and box-malls you’re likely to find, and if you were in one of the impossibly hip neighborhoods in any city, the popular spots wouldn’t necessarily be universally appealing . None of these are criticisms of Goodfoot, but just inherent elements of any check-in service.
Is it better than Yelp for finding the best Mexican food? Probably not. But it’s a much simpler, faster way of finding what you want than scrolling through conflicting reviews and getting tied-up in star ratings.
If you’re in a new neighbourhood and looking for a local hangout, or find yourself at a dive bar looking for alternatives, Goodfoot can point you in the right direction. If you’re like me, and don’t want to participate in the check-in phenomenon, but still want to take advantage of the data it provides, give Goodfoot a try.