Google Latitude Check-ins Follow Foursquare Rewards at SXSW

Google March 10 nodded to Foursquare by adding check-in offers to its friend-finding Latitude service. The offers are limited to 60 shops in downtown Austin, Texas, for SXSW.

Taking a page from Foursquare's playbook, Google's Latitude application is offering incentives such as free coffee and ice cream for users who check in to more than 60 businesses in Austin, Texas, for the South-by-Southwest Interactive show.

Google Feb. 1 launched check-ins for its Google Latitude friend-finding application to help users share places they pop into with friends from their Android smartphones.

The company also included game mechanics similar to those created by mobile check-in startup Foursquare, with users gaining Regular, VIP or Guru at places, depending on how often you've checked in there. These status levels will help determine whether a user is eligible for an offer or not.

At SXSW (the South-by-Southwest Interactive show), the music, movie and Internet festival where Foursquare rose to prominence two years ago, users will be able to find check-in offers from businesses' Place pages and Google Maps for Android (version 5.2) search results.

Users will tap to see their status and can unlock check-in offers for their status level from a business' Place page. When a Latitude user unlocks a check-in offer, they can tap redeem and show their phone to claim their deal or discount, similar to the way users do on Foursquare or the Facebook Deals service.

Google created this Google Maps list of Austin businesses participating in these check-in offers. EWEEK will build a slideshow next week of some of the current offers, a sample of which includes:

  • a free coffee for Regulars at Frank
  • a free sundae from the cafe for VIPs at Toy Joy
  • buy a slice and get one free during certain hours for VIPs at East Side Pies
  • 10 percent off any upcoming event book for Gurus at BookPeople
  • 20 percent off select merchandise for Gurus at Waterloo Records

While the check-in offers are limited to Austin this week, Google is working on bringing them to more people and more places all over the United States.

Check-ins and check-in offers are also limited to Android phone users at this time, though Google will add these perks to the Latitude application for the iPhone soon.

Google's move highlights its aggressive measures to target the intersection of local search and e-commerce in the wake of the company's failure to acquire Groupon for $6 billion.

While Google is just launching deals with check-ins, Foursquare earlier this week launched the third version of its platform, adding "specials" to offer to swarms, groups of friends, regulars, newbies, mayors or everyone. The check-in service has 7.5 million users.