Forecast wants to take us back to the future and update the check-in app

logoAs we’ve been noticing, there’s a lot of transition going on in the location app environment. Developers are trying to pinpoint how much is too much sharing, and when exactly we want to broadcast our physical locations. They’re also trying to enable users to track and mark what they do and where seamlessly, in a more natural, real-time sense.

And as you’d expect, the attempts are fraught with problems. Privacy is only one of those issues; logistics and user experience have proven to have their own set of unique difficulties.

Despite any and all of this, one more app is going to take on location. Foresight is launching the next iteration of its app with Foresight 2.0. There are a few big changes the app, the most significant arguably being its integration with Timeline. It’s own web access to the app shouldn’t go unnoticed though.

forecastIf you haven’t heard of Forecast, you can start with the fact that creator René Pinnell sees it as “Timeline for the future.” The app’s model is fairly simple: you create a Forecast, something you plan on doing and where – i.e., happy hour at a local bar. You send the Forecast out (it’s linked with Foursquare), and then a future check in of what you plan on doing is created. Users are able to push updates to their phone’s notifications so they have a running schedule or what their friends are doing and where and when.

If you’re anything like us, then you’re asking “what’s the need?” Isn’t this just adding a functionality to already available check-in apps? According to Pinnell, the planning element of these options is anything but fail safe. “There is this idea… that you can check in somewhere and a nearby friend will see it and meet you,” he tells us. “It’s part of the reason I got so excited about Foursquare and the location app explosion a couple years ago. The problem is it just doesn’t happen that often.”

“You check in a thousand times on Foursquare and maybe a few times it’s led to meeting friends nearby.”

And that unreliability is why the seamless location app might be flawed. From early reviews of these trendsetting applications, they simply won’t work if no one is checking in near you. “I’m a huge believer in serendipity and the magic behind those connections,” says Pinnell. “We’re giving the opportunity for them to happen more often by pushing the future aspect.”

Pinnell says Forecasts have a very high conversion rate – about 80-percent. Of course that’s relative to the user number, but that number has been growing.

forecastIt seems like there’s a continuum of sorts here: apps like Highlight leave too much to chance, Foursquare too little. Forecast is trying to find the sweet spot between them.

Forecast’s Facebook integration means you can plan and create Forecasts through the social network, and they will be recorded to your personal Timeline as well.

But Forecast isn’t only concerned with your future plans — it’s working on its own road map too. There are a few monetization strategies in the mix, all of them leveraging consumers’ location and check-in data for brands and businesses. For instance, if users were checking in to go to happy hour, they might get a suggested check-in and deal offer from a karaoke joint nearby. The high conversion rate of Forecast could make this particularly attractive to local business owners. Pinnell assures us that despite its profit scheme, the user experience is what comes first, saying Forecast wants to “build the social part first, the business second.”