Goodbye @Gowalla


Gowalla have removed the one feature I enjoyed the most with their latest iteration, so it's time for me to give up my account of many years, and move exclusively to Foursquare. We had some great times!

Easter egg hunts for adults

Like most of my Twitter friends, several years ago I moved from Brightkite to Gowalla to satisfy my check-in obsession. Gowalla was more reliable, and offered some great new features such as badges you would earn for various activities, and beautiful unique graphics for different location categories.

The most interesting twist Gowalla introduced though was the concept of items tied to locations. Like a scavenger hunt, you would find items upon checking into places which you could keep, swap with other items people had left in different places, or use them to "found" places.

While I started using Foursquare last year and concurrently checking into places with it given my friends all use the service, I was an obsessive Gowalla user until this afternoon. I used it to check into my favourite coffee shops in Adelaide at the time, then Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney where I found myself living, then and around Germany, the Czech Republic, France and Ireland on our last holiday. It was lots of fun!

Uh oh, spaghettioes

This all seems to have changed however. With their latest software update, Gowalla has introduced their new Guides feature which promises a curated tour of various different cities. To their credit, their graphics are just as great as ever.

Gone however are our earned items and badges. They're not anywhere in the new application, and API calls return nothing. Call me old fashioned or inexperienced when it comes to cloud computing, but I tend not to trust services that delete our data, particularly data that we've collected in world travels and such. I'm also reluctant to contribute material to sites that will delete my data, this has happened far too many times already and I'm tired of it. Is it any wonder I blog on my own domain and web server?

I'll admit, it was starting to get irritating checking into both Gowalla and Foursquare at the same time[1], and I was starting to look for an excuse to ditch one of them. This change in focus with Gowalla has provided the impetus I needed to move to Foursquare exclusively, which I've now just done. My last Gowalla check-in was at the Euro Coffee Bar, the location that surpassed the Boatdeck Café in Mawson Lakes, Adelaide as my #1 check-in location. Seemed fitting.

So long, and thanks for all the fish [items].

Good luck with your new focus Gowalla team, thanks for the fun times. For those of you who have followed me on Gowalla, you can now find me on Foursquare.

UPDATE: Despite the API not returning anything, I downgraded the app back to 3.3.0 on my iTelephone, and my pins and items were still there. Perhaps they've just closed access to them, or stored them on my phone. In that case, may it still be possible to export my stuff then?

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Hi!

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