It looks like Google+ is adding a feature that will allow users to “check-in” via the Google+ mobile application in order to receive a time-sensitive deal or discount. This feature is mentioned in Google Places’s help documentation, but has not yet been made available to business owners using the Google Places service.
Google check-ins have a confusing history, it has to be said.
To be clear, the ability to check in via Google+ is not new.
Google’s location-based social service Google Latitude launched checkins in February, prior to the launch of Google+. And when Google+ arrived on mobile, it offered a check-in feature of its own, seemingly based on Latitude, which pulls up a list of nearby Google Places.
Google Latitude also allows you to sync your Latitude check-ins with Google+, as Google explains here. Other documentation refers to check-in offers for Latitude users (link), but again, nothing that specifically says these offers will show up for users checking in on Google+.
Yeah, it’s kind of a big ol’ mess right now.
Google probably should have killed off Latitude when Google+ launched to avoid this kind of confusion. Maybe it still will. After all, now you can checkin on Google+ and there are so many other places to find Google’s Offers, including the Google Shopper application (iOS/Android), the Google Offers application for Android, and the Google Offers website.
And soon, apparently, Google+.
The new help documentation was spotted by Mike Blumental, who also notes that Google has recently started cracking down on businesses whose offers don’t include a real discount of some sort. Business owners are receiving emails explaining that offers should provide “a monetary discount or an additional good or service that is not normally included.” (That’s per the Offers Guidelines here.)
As for the forthcoming Google+ check-in offers, here’s the Help Documentation that explains how Google+ users can receive the deal or discount. It reads (emphasis mine):
If your customers have to visit your locations in order to do business with you, you can request that they check-in on Google+ in order to redeem your offers. They can choose to share the check-in publicly or with some of their circles, which helps spread the word about your business on Google+. They can also choose to keep their check-in private and still redeem an offer.
Again, this is not a “Google Places” check-in offer or a “Google Latitude” check-in offer being discussed here, it’s a “Google+” check-in offer.
So is this new? It appears so, because the option for a business owner to actually include the Google+ check-in offer hasn’t yet gone live within the Offers tab of Google Places, which is here such things are maintained. This is what it looks like now (see below):
This all seems to imply that Google+ is going to soon encourage more check-ins through the integration of check-in deals and discounts, similar to Foursquare. It’s an obvious next move, of course, but it’s good to see it all confirmed in black & white…help documentation.