I first started using Gowalla about 18 months ago. I only used it for a few check-ins but I was addicted by the end of the first day. I loved the idea of keeping a record of the places I went to and enjoyed knowing where friends were at any given time. Some of those friends became addicted also which added some mild competitive motivations, who could check-in at the most random or coolest place etc. It became a bit of an obsession. I'd hold up the task of weekly shopping trying to get signal so I could check-in at Sainsbury's.

When Gowalla added integration with Foursquare, I decided to create an account on the alternative service and I had the best of both worlds because I was able to follow my friends no matter how they chose to check-in. On a little sidenote, I noticed more often than not that posting via Gowalla didn't seem to show on Foursquare but I was never too bothered because I was still checking in at all my favourite places. Happy days.

Things started going sour for me in back in September when Gowalla shifted focus from being a simple check-in service to... I don't know to be honest. I've not figured out how stories are different from check-ins and not quite sure how stories are linked together (if at all). Maybe I'm just missing a really obvious point but because I've been asking more questions about what's different, I've neglected to use the app to check-in except on occasion when the mood took me.

I decided to give Foursquare a try, this time checking in on their native iPhone app but there's always been something about the app design which makes using the app a chore for me. Personally, I'm not too fussed about points or league tables and things like that so I felt it detracted from what I went there to do: check-in to places and see what my friends are up to.

As I've not been checking in too often, I was beginning to think my geo-location accounts would be going stale, fast. Then Path went and redesigned their app...

Finding the new path

I signed up to Path a year ago and remember loving the design and the interface from the outset. I really wanted to keep on using it but at the time it really came down to just having too many social networks running at once. That and the fact that only one other person I knew was using it at the time. Not very fun.

Last week, a surge of people were raving about "the new Path" on Twitter so I went to see what all the fuss was about and it has stuck a lot better than the first time around. The app design is really beautiful and there are some great little details that takes it from being just another networking app, to one that's really pushing new ideas of navigation and interaction on the iPhone (in my opinion as a user) and is actually really fun to use. I might write more about the design in another post.

What I really love now is the integration with Foursquare. It sits as a seamless extension to the available actions in the app and means I can check-in on Foursquare using an interface which makes a lot more sense to me. I'm once again getting the best of both worlds.