When it comes to location check-ins, there are a lot of different apps that are designed to tell everyone where you are and what you’re doing. With apps like Foursquare dominating the check-in space, it’s hard to imagine a different way of doing things.
Ohai is an app that does exactly that: it introduces a new way of handling location check-ins. Whereas Foursquare makes checking in at different locations something of a game, complete with a scoring system and leaderboard, Ohai focuses more on saving memories and less on visiting the most places of all your friends.
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Those familiar with iBooks on the iPhone will find Ohai’s interface familiar, but even those who have never read an iBook before will find the app intuitive and easy to use.
The app is designed to resemble a journal, complete with a leather cover that appears on startup. Each day has it’s own page full of check-ins, photos, and other metadata. Flipping all the way back to the first page reveals app’s credits (much like a real book would have special thanks and dedications at the beginning). Similarly, the end of the “book” features an “about the author” page that shows your App.net profile photo, username, and bio.
Checking in is accomplished through a button located at the bottom of the current day’s page. From the check-in screen you can select a point of interest near your current location, add a note, select social networks to share (or not share) the information to, and include a photo.
To share or not to share
When setting up Ohai for the first time, you’ll be asked to login with your App.net account. The accounts are free, but many people don’t have accounts on the Twitter-like network yet. Once you’ve logged in, you can use Twitter instead of ADN to share your check-ins (or use both networks, if you want).
When sharing to Twitter or App.net, Ohai doesn’t include any links to a web service, like Foursquare. Ohai’s social posts include only your note, the name of your selected point of interest, and the photo you chose to attach to the check-in.
Ohai also avoids any unnecessary complications by leveraging built-in location and photo sharing services specific to each social network, rather than making you log in to third-part services like Twitpic.
If you share to Twitter, the default pic.twitter.com service is used to upload your photo, and your tweet is geotagged just like it would be if you posted from a regular Twitter app with your location turned on.
Similarly, sharing to App.net uses that network’s built-in photo sharing service, and geotags your post using ADN’s Location API. Ohai is actually the first check-in app to use ADN’s location service for this purpose.
This Location API is also where the POI data is pulled from, and in my experience it’s been very complete, although some areas may not have full data yet. I was able to find certain businesses in Ohai that I can’t even find on Google Maps or Apple Maps.
If you choose not to share your check-in to a social network at all, it’s stored in your journal where only you will be able to see it. This is a big contrast to other services which share your check-in data on a public account no matter what sharing options you select.
I’ve been on Foursquare for a while now, occasionally using it to get free stuff from certain businesses when they run specials, but I’ve never really embraced the seemingly-competitive nature of it. The over-complication of a simple check-in app (what some call “feature bloat”) has made the lack of a truly simple check-in service quite apparent.
Like all software, Ohai is not without its issues. Tapping the check-in button at the wrong angle can cause the page to turn instead of opening a new check-in. The page-style navigation makes a lot of sense, but once you’ve used the app for a few days, flipping back in time can become tiresome. Finally, there’s currently no way to delete check-ins. However, I’ve been told by the developer that many of these issues will be addressed in future updates.
If, like me, you’ve become annoyed by the complication of other check-in apps, Ohai is the perfect solution. The simple design and easy sharing make it one of the best apps in its class for keeping track of where you’ve been, especially if you don’t want to share that information with anyone else.