Gowalla vs Foursquare?


I use both Foursquare and Gowalla on my iPhone. Although both are geared as location-based applications, both are fairly different.

If I had to pick one out of the two, I would pick Gowalla, and here is why.

Foursquare and Gowalla both use “checking in”. You arrive at an interesting location, you open the app, and you check in, simple as that. Both offer you the ability to share your check-ins with your social feeds on Facebook and Twitter. Both also track users with the most check-ins at a single location. One more shared feature is “badges” for Foursquare and “pins” for Gowalla. These are little graphical icons that represent a location or achievement you have reached. A lot of businesses are using these applications to promote discounts and specials to their clients which makes the use of them beneficial as well as fun. However, this is basically where Foursquare stops in comparison to Gowalla.

Gowalla also includes several other features; Items, Trips, and Featured Spots.

Items are similar to pins except they don’t “stick” to a location or directly represent an achievement. Items can be random, i.e. a Frisbee or noodle bowl, or specific like an Incase iPhone slider case. When you “find” an item by checking-in somewhere someone has “dropped” the item, you pick it up and it “travels” with you. You can later exchange it or drop it at another location. What this does is create a fun collector-like game within the overall location based check-ins.

Trips are one of the more unique features Gowalla offers over Foursquare. Trips consist of multiple check-in points with similar subject matter. A zoo in Fort Worth texas has a special pin you can receive if you check-in at each of its checkpoints in the trip. Austin, Texas, where Gowalla originates, has several bar hopping trips and other unique experiences. This provides a unique tool for potential use by your business or simply a fun goal oriented road trip.

Featured Spots are simply what they are, featured. Special locations with special stamps (pins for checkins). In Arlington, Texas, the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium is a featured spot. This is a great way to show off to your friends that you’ve been to some of these famous locations.

I’d love to see Foursquare come up with some new features that make their experience even more fun to use, it will only push both services to come up with some interesting new ways for us to experience the world on the go.


Previously to SXSW, both Foursquare and Gowalla pushed major updates to their platforms.

Foursquare has added numerous features including a new interface. Locations now have mini identification badges which are generic for the type of location you are at; a building for a hotel, a beer mug for a bar, a picture frame for an museum, etc etc. They’ve also added specials for locations that can be unlocked through specific check-ins, i.e. you check-in somewhere, you get a discount at that location. Locations have maps under the Details tab.

Gowalla has also added numerous features including a new interface as well. Gowalla already used identification icons for their locations but there’s are not as generic as Foursquare’s. A lot of their major locations have completely customized icons specific to that location. For smaller venues, there are generic icons to choose but they are all in full color and typically have more specificity to them, i.e. a sushi bar has a sushi icon, bars can have different styles of icons for what type of bar, country, Irish pub, etc. One MAJOR addition to Gowalla is the ability to add photos to a location. Now you can check-in and take a picture of where you are at, this makes exploring your city more visual! Gowalla also has specials similar to what Fousquare does but does it through their game-like experience through finding items and redeeming those items for discounts.

So, to update my personal preference. I currently still choose Gowalla over Foursquare. Gowalla seems to have a richer experience that is more fun to interact with, and graphically Gowalla is much more eye pleasing.

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12 replies
  1. Daniel says:

    Pretty biased article, you’ve said nothing of foursquare features past the first paragraph. Are you saying that it has no other features?
    What about the “tips” and the “to do” at places?

    • Corey Frey says:

      That would be because, when this article was written, that was the end of features offered by Foursquare. The point was that Gowalla had more features which is why the rest of the article was written.

      Yes, both apps recently pushed major updates adding features. Foursquare added quite a bit. Expect an update to this article while we’re at SXSW and interviewed both Foursquare and Gowalla.

  2. Nels says:

    I agree with you. I started on Foursquare and that was fine, but then I tried Gowalla and I prefer it to Foursquare. There is more to do and I like that you have to sacrifice an item to found the place. It costs you something. Much more fun.

  3. Danny says:

    False. Tips and To Do’s have been a part of Foursquare for a long time and are not a product of the most recent update.

  4. Ice Pony Girl says:

    I sure wish Gowalla had a HOW TO DO or HELP page! I just downloaded the app to my Droid and can’t figure out how the heck to do the most simple thing…such as a CHECK-IN.

    Feeling dumb. HAHA~!

  5. Alex says:

    At least foursquare works on blackberry’s. It appears that gowalla has some serious issues running in BB while it runs smoothly on iphone’s.
    I would say:
    Foursquare vs Gowalla: 1 -0

  6. Kenn says:

    FWIW (not much), newbie trying Foursquare & Gowalla on an Android device. So far Gowalla more accurately knows where I am, is more intuitive to use, and is more graphically pleasing. So I would say:
    Foursquare vs. Gowalla: 0-1

  7. IaoTech says:

    I also prefer Gowalla, mostly because of the ability to add photo’s to a spot/place. It would be even nicer if I could pick a photo from my gallery instead of having to take a picture at that moment.

    My vote goes for Gowalla as of this date, if Foursquare added photo capability it would rate much higher, IMHO.

  8. Dan says:

    I’ve been using both of them and really like the look and feel of Gowalla over Foursquare. Plus they just added a custom personal page design for you’re profile. Gowalla is winning in my book!

  9. Vince says:

    I also use both apps at the moment. Just like you, I seem to prefer Gowalla because of its features. A major let-down, however, is that you cannot ad locations without being there. A lot of big, common locations are missing here in the UK, and so I cannot assembly trips ahead or for others (although I might have been there before using Gowalla or forgot to check-in). Also, I like the “To do” list of foursquare where I keep all locations I read about, friends recommend etc. Pushing Gowalla developers on this, they seem to be pretty reluctant.
    Please add your support here: http://getsatisfaction.com/gowalla/topics/gowalla_should_allow_users_to_add_spots_through_a_computer


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