Foursquare did away with private check-ins this week, finally ending support for what had been, for a long time, one of the service’s most-neglected features: the ability to privately track places you’ve visited for personal use. Today, a new iOS app simply called Pins is offering an alternative with the debut of a service that lets you collect, organize and optionally share lists of places you want to remember.
This is not the first time something like this has been tried, which means even for a small app like Pins, it faces a lot of competition. Everplaces, PinDrop, Drawer, and even to some extent Pinterest, with its new “Place” pins, have been working to make collections of places easy to create, track and share.
But Pins has a few features that make it stand out. For starters, when you build your collections of places in its app – like, “favorite sushi spots,” “best art galleries,” “date night go-to’s,” “restaurants to try,” etc. – you can hashtag each pin, which allows you to add the venue to multiple lists on the fly. For instance, a great Italian place might get an “Italian” hashtag, while it’s also added to another list of favorite downtown restaurants.
Your friends can then follow these color-coded hashtags, unless you’ve made your pins private. In addition, you can allow anyone to follow your lists by making your pins public, instead of just friends-only.
The app also offers a nifty trick with Pins’ support for “picture pins.” This process makes it easier to create pins, by importing photos from your iPhone’s Camera Roll. Another option pulls in your check-ins from Facebook. You can now view a venue’s Yelp page, check-in on Facebook from a pin, and soon, check-in on Foursquare, too.
The app has a clever interface which is easy to understand and use, but we did encounter some bugs in testing – it would crash upon loading up large contact lists, for example, so you may not want to switch on the friend matching function just yet. (For what it’s worth, LinkedIn’s Contacts app has never been able to process my contacts list, either. I should probably clean it up.) The syncing process involving Pins’ Facebook integration was slow as well. And until all these background functions complete you can’t jump into using Pins, which is a problem.
In other words, your mileage may vary here.
Pins was created by fellow ShopKeep employees. CEO Jonathan Bensamoun has since left the POS maker, while Pins’ CTO is, um, still there.