Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

David Zax

A View from David Zax

Why Yelp Check-Ins for Apple Maps Make Sense

The anointed check-in apps haven’t captured the general public.

  • June 29, 2012

Bloomberg reports that Apple Maps–that awesome next-gen mapping application I’ve written about before–has chosen an unexpected partner for its in-app check-ins: Yelp. (It’s not the only way Apple’s getting cozier with Yelp, of late.) You probably mostly use Yelp for ideas of good restaurants to meet people at. But it also has a check-ins feature, a la Foursquare, since 2010.

Gizmodo says, with characteristic frankness, “it’s hard to imagine a dumber choice,” since “nobody uses” Yelp check-ins.

But here’s the thing–now, maybe people will.

The technorati sometimes tend to ignore how the general public actually uses technology. Foursquare may be the check-in app of choice among those in the know, but there are two important contextual bits of information to bear in mind here. First, if the experiences of myself and countless friends are any indication, Foursquare only has captured a portion of its 20 million registrants as active users. I pulled up the app a half-dozen times, didn’t see the point of it, and have rarely used it since downloading it a year ago. My story is hardly uncommon.

The other broader piece to consider here is that most people don’t use check-in services at all. Forrester Research, surveying 37,000 people last winter, found that only 2% of adults use check-in services. Most had never even heard of the idea.

Yelp, by contrast, is anything but niche; it has become one of what Paul Graham calls a “periodic table” website–something downright elemental to the internet. The newly public company now gets an average of some 70 million monthly unique visitors to its site. It has name recognition, broad user trust, an active community, and is supremely useful: I use it regularly, as do most reasonably tech-savvy people I know.

The utility of check-ins for the broader public is still up in question; otherwise, more than 2% of adults would be doing it. But the utility of maps and of business reviews is uncontested. By folding in check-ins with these two other canonized, elemental features of our digital lives, Apple makes it more likely that check-ins will receive broader popularity in the future.

AI is here. Will you lead or follow?
Join us at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.