Today Google released an update to Maps for Android that includes an update to Latitude that adds check-ins. The change to Latitude marks Google’s entry into the crowded group of check-in apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla. Google has added some unique features to Latitude that differentiate it from other apps in this category.
First, Latitude will provide notifications on your phone whenever you enter a location it knows, prompting you to check-in at the location. When I check-in with Foursquare I first have to start the app, wait for Foursquare to find places around me, and some times have to force a refresh, select the place, and then check-in. Latitude notifications will simplify the process to simply selecting the notification.
If selecting a notification is too much work, you can go one step further and automate the process. Latitude supports automatic check-ins to locations that you specify. Enter a location that you select for automatic check-ins and Latitude checks you in with no action on your part.
Finally, when you leave a location Latitude automatically checks you out. Neither Foursquare or Gowalla are concerned about check-outs, so I am not sure about the usefulness of this feature.
One feature that Latitude does not have is integration with social networks. You can configure Foursquare and Gowalla to automatically post check-ins to your Twitter account and Facebook feed, which shares your location with your friends not on the check-in services. Latitude some what supports this by utilizing the Android’s share feature to send your location information via an app on your phone.