Gowalla for iPhone - app review

Gowalla for iPhone is a social app from some fine folks in Austin, TX that allows you to check-in to locations, see where your friends are checking-in, collect items and complete trips. For those of you not familiar with the whole "check-in" craze, the idea is you travel around town, land at a "spot" such as the movie theater, gas station or restaurant, and then tap the Check-in button. When you do this a couple things happen:

You can...

  • Post to Twitter and Facebook
  • Add a photo
  • Add a quick post
  • Leave an item

There are some great social aspects to Gowalla, but let's first talk about items. After installing Gowalla on the iPhone, you receive three items. You can keep and cheris these items in a vault, never to be used, or you can swap for other items at Spots when you check in. You are also randomly given items when you check into locations. I found myself without an item for a few weeks, but fear not, I received two items randomly twice in a day! Other then exchanging an item at a Spot, you can leave an item at that location if now one has. This will give you "founder" status.

What I particularly love about Gowalla compared to it's competition, is that it is not focused on mayorships or point leaderboards. I tend to think I go a out a fair amount and explore the city with my family, but there are some people that go out even more than I do and I will never catch up to them in points. Gowalla's main attraction for me is the item collection feature.

For those adventurous types, there are trips. Trips are not built into the iPhone but are on the website. When you follow these trips, you earn a special badge. For example, I will be visiting Chicago and I am going to try to complete the Chicago trip.

To find friends to share with, Gowalla gives you some tools to can scan your address book, Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail, and you can always find by name.

All of this is rendered with beautiful icons and graphics that really allows you to enjoy the experience of the application. The only major detractor for me is that the application is still a little slow, but boy is it pretty...

Gowalla is available now in the App Store for free [Free- iTunes Link (opens in new tab)]


  • Wonderful artistry
  • Check-in
  • Trips
  • View leaderboard
  • Directions
  • Save items to your vault


  • Cannot edit Spots on the iPhone
  • Slow loading

TiPb iPad 4-star rated

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Software trainer, blogger and mobile technology enthusiast living in the suburban Midwest.

  • I still prefer Loopt to any other location based check-in app.
  • I love Gowalla. My only big problem with it is sometimes the location part of it is flaky. I can be at a place that I created, in the exact spot that I created it, and it will tell me that location is too far away to check in. Sometimes if I reload spots a few times it will correct itself, sometimes not. It's one the the foursquare app seems to be better at so far. Also, trips are included in the app. The choice buttons on the bottom are activity, spots, trips, and passport.
  • I use Gowalla and find it fun. The item collection is great incentive to go and explore. The location is kind of annoying. When I create a spot I have to go to my pc and edit the spot because it's usually off a bit even when I'm standing outside the door marking the spot.
  • Maybe it's just my paranoid tendancies, but this seems like it would open up all kinds of cans of worms.
  • Great writeup. I still have questions and would normally "try it for myself" except one of my
    concerns with this app (and others like it) center around privacy and comprehensive control of personal (location & otherwise) information.
    Can software items be redeemed for any REAL services or goods, or are they solely on-screen (albeit cool and fanciful) tokens which only represent novelty or sentimental value?
    Also, are most business persons (on these maps) delighted about all this, oblivious to it, or annoyed by "all these nerds showing up to use their iPhones, then leave"?
  • I deleted this app yesterday, because of the fact I was in Sao Paulo and it still had me in Buenos Aires. It doesn't allow you to contact them directly from the app. which was the last straw. AVOID.
    I'll stick with FourSquare
  • its got nice design, yeeh FourSquare is great too
  • I consider following Facebook receives the tempo problem fixed it will probably be a fairly very good assistance.
  • just like to say you can now not collect items in the new updated version. which just makes gowalla pointless.