Microsoft's Bing mobile search team launched a group check-in application called We're In to play in the group communications space with Google, Facebook and others.
When it comes to socially oriented
mobile applications, Facebook and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) tend to be
among the leaders in mind and market share.
Facebook just launched Facebook Messenger,
and Google+ includes Hangouts and Huddle apps.
to play there as well via Bing. The company
launched We're In, an application for Windows Phone 7 (WP7) smartphones
users invite their friends to share their location and post status updates.
Facebook Places and Latitude offer check-in capabilities for individual users, We're
In is a group check-in application for friends who want to find each other
within crowds. When invitees join, they agree to share their location with other Windows Phone 7 users via Bing Maps.
Users must provide their mobile phone numbers to sign
up and then must pick friends or enter phone numbers from their WP7 contacts.
The users then tell their friends what the plan is and how long they want to
share location info for the proposed meet-up.
Invitees receive a text message with these details, and
they may then use the app to join the person who invited them. Users of phones
other than WP7, such as iPhone or Android handsets, needn't worry about being
Those users will also receive a text from We're In and may join from
the mobile Website via the invite. However, the Bing mobile team is also
working to port We're In as a native app for other platforms.
When friends join the We're In meet-up, their
locations surface on the Bing Map, with everyone who joined able to see everyone
We're In users may also update their status to let friends
know that they're on their way or are running late, among other details. We're
In's People tab aggregates the status messages of everyone who has joined the
Bing has decent privacy measures in place so that
users aren't letting themselves be tracked by friends all of the time. For
example, when the invite expires, the shared location does as well. Users may
also stop sharing their location info at
any time by tapping "leave" on the People tab.
Group communications services are becoming increasingly
popular. Skype, the VOIP company being acquired by Microsoft, has just purchased
group messaging service GroupMe
. Facebook purchased group chat specialist
Beluga and launched a Facebook Messenger group chat application
based on those
The Google+ social network launched with Hangouts for group videoconferencing and Huddle group
messaging for handsets.
Clearly, Bing is eager to grab a piece of this
action for its nascent WP7 platform. With a group check-in model, Bing has a fresh approach compared to those companies. Perhaps the app can eventually provide some rewards for users who check in to group meetings and places first.
It's unclear whether the difference will appeal enough to users to boost user engagement, both of Bing's mobile search and WP7.