Last week, I went on a family vacation in Antigua. Since I’m a hopeless social media addict without an international iPhone data plan, I panicked – logically – about being disconnected from all my online personas. While I knew HootSuite would allow me to pre-schedule Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn posts before leaving the country, what about my location-based check-ins? Why wasn’t there an app that would allow me to schedule a check-in before arriving at a specific location?
That’s when I discovered Forecast, a service that bills itself as “a fun and simple way for friends to share where they’re going.” Not only would the application allow me to check in via Foursquare at a place and time in the future, but it would push check-ins to Twitter or Facebook with the click of a button (loyal readers – hi mom! – know I’m not a fan of this practice, but it is occasionally relevant).
Despite its lofty goals and my high expectations, Forecast was a significant disappointment. Here are four reasons why:
1. Scheduled Updates and Accompanying Updates are Pushed Separately – take a look at this Tweet:
Last day 😦 (Going to St James Club Hotel Antigua Island at 6:10am on Mar 9) frc.st/A8tzAf—
Matthew Smith (@MatthewSm1th) February 28, 2012
On February 28, I scheduled a check-in for March 9 – a time I expected to be out of both cell and data range. I scheduled the update to be pushed to Twitter. And it was…on February 28! Can you think of a less relevant Tweet? If Forecast can schedule my check-in for a specific time at a specific place, shouldn’t it also be able to synch the corresponding Twitter update?
2. It’s Mobile-Based Only – while scheduling check-ins on-the-go is a convenient feature, why can’t I schedule them from my laptop as well? Forecast’s non-mobile display is a largely blank and aesthetically unpleasant display; why did its developers ignore static users?
3. It’s Not What it Claims to Be – Check out this push notification:
Instead of automatically checking me in to my location, Forecast asked me if I was actually at the location…then it required me to open the app to verify my location…and only then would it actually check me in! Without data (which I purchased midway through my trip) or Wi-Fi, I would never have received this notification, and thus, would never have been checked in. If I want a reminder to check in to specific locations, it’s much easier to use my native Calendar app than it is to program through Forecast’s bulky interface.
4. It’s All Sizzle and No Substance – with esteemed authorities like Mashable promoting the service as one of the “Hot Apps to Watch at SXSW 2012,” Forecast should have something new to offer. But hey, why develop your product when you can just hire a good publicist, right?
To Forecast’s credit, I Tweeted a complaint about problem #1 and received an @ reply within minutes. But a responsive community manager isn’t enough to smooth over the inherent flaws in Forecast’s platform (especially since I was asked for recommended changes and then never heard back from said community manager).
Forecast is an interesting idea with the potential to become a valuable service. But until its designers undertake some substantial remodeling, I’m afraid it will remain an unFOREtunate and largely FOREgettable application.
Ugh. Word play. Please FOREgive me.